BT is to launch payphones which can send e-mails and text messages to mobiles, and has set up a team to develop multimedia payphones which can be sold to retailers for use by customers in store.
BT is testing 30 text payphones in Brighton and Hove before a national roll-out in October. BT plans to have 3,000 text phones installed by the end of the year.
The text phones are being converted from existing multipayment phones which take coins, phonecards and credit cards. It costs 20p to send an e-mail the length of one-third of an A4 sheet, and 10p to send a text message to a mobile phone.
A BT spokesman says the eventual plan is to enable customers to receive e-mails through these phones.
The text payphones are different to the multimedia phones, which allow customers to surf the Internet through a touch-screen. There are 400 multimedia phones in operation, but BT plans to have 1,000 more operating by the end of the year.
The BT spokesman admits: “One problem with the multimedia phones is that customers don’t realise you can use them like an ordinary payphone. We’ll be launching a marketing campaign later this year to tell people how to use them.” He says the text phones are simpler to use.
He adds that a team has been set up to tailor multimedia phones to particular retailers’ needs for installation in store.