back to article How long till some drunkard puts a foot through one of BT's 'iconic, digital smart city communication hubs'?

BT was joined by local dignitaries including the Mayor of Kensington to cut the silk sash on its 21st-century phone box that gives people access to free Gigabit Wi-Fi, rapid mobile phone charging, and free calls if needed. The BT Street Hub 2.0 unit is now up and running in Notting Hill Gate with others due to be unveiled in …

  1. Snowy Silver badge

    Why use a foot

    When from the picture they provide and nice to do it instead.

    1. Snowy Silver badge

      Re: Why use a foot

      A sort of edit I was going for something else before my fingers mangled the message on its journey from my brain to the keyboard.

      When from the picture they provide a nice chair to do it instead.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "How long till some drunkard puts a foot through ..."

    How long before someone decides to hog the booth, leading to street fights in the queue?

    Phone calls, particularly from public booths since they took the doors away, have tended to be short. Using these data services and even phone charging commonly take a lot longer.

  3. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    Drug dealers and hookers? The ones round my way are generally identifiable by a homeless person scrunched next to them in a sleeping bag charging his/her phone. A useful public amenity, then, I'd say.

    1. Warm Braw

      The ones round my way are generally identifiable by a homeless person scrunched next to them in a sleeping bag charging his/her phone

      Glad the drug dealers and hookers in your area are so public-spirited.

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        (it took me a moment, but I got it eventually...)

        1. Warm Braw

          This is why you should never proofread your own work!

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Suicide booth, Bender? Toilet, Fry?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure late on Friday and Saturday nights

    they'll make convenient urinals.

  5. Ochib

    Plug your phone into a random USB Socket

    what's the worst that can happen.

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: Plug your phone into a random USB Socket

      This is why I generally keep one of those cheapo Chinese "power only" cables around. Can't jack me on that.*

      *(Also, I have a Nokia 5310, so good luck with that.)

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Plug your phone into a random USB Socket

        And how well will your 5310 cope with 5kV into its USB/charging port?

        1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

          Re: Plug your phone into a random USB Socket

          Fair point, but I shall give two counter-points:

          1) With the dielectric strength of dry air being something of the order 3 kV/mm, there's a good chance I'd hear the fizzing of the arcing (or at least a corona discharge) between the contacts at 5 kV (and I'd probably smell the ozone too). 2) If I missed that and it did get fried, I'd put it down to experience and buy a new one from, e.g., the nearest Argos for the price of a large round of drinks.

          As an additional but relevant point, I went away camping for a week with it recently and came back with ~70% charge remaining despite making several calls in a low-signal area. The chances of me even needing to plug it into a random socket are therefore virtually zero. Which is nice.

  6. Adrian 4


    Wouldn't the traditional red and white tent have been more iconic ?

    Muddy hole inside optional.

  7. DrBobK

    Why not a K6?

    Surely they could have put all of that stuff inside a Giles Gilbert Scott K6 phone box? If they'd done that then the public's view of BT might have improved a bit.

  8. vogon00


    What an absolutely wank idea. What wet-dreaming-product-person came up with that idea? I'd love to see their market research..

    ISTR that someone worked out that, at one point, BT's market cap was worth less than the scrap value of their buried copper and that the 'asset strippers' might be able to make a killing if they bought BT Group (I think they forgot the costs of digging the stuff up!).

    Now that BT don't have that 'asset' any more (It's OpenReach's now, right?), it's no wonder they are resorting to advertising and a 'product useful only for PR' strategy.

    1. Ochib

      Re: Oh....really?

      Was it this article?

      1. vogon00

        Re: Oh....really?

        It could well have been that article, although I suspect I read a different one first. Too many years and too much vino rosso have passed* to be certain...:-)

        Tim Worstall did his usual well-thought-out but definitely unusual analysis.....and seems to reprise the idea in early 2013 here.

        Tim has, of course, posted other stuff in his capacity as El Reg's self-confessed 'Metals wide-boy'. My favourite was the one on him selling '60 tonnes of nuclear power plant scrap'.

        * Literally!

  9. smudge

    The monolith

    Does the monolith show strange, hypnotic, moving patterns at night, to teach new skills to the locals?

    And will it be gone one morning when they wake up?

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: will it be gone one morning when they wake up

      Yes, though the buggers who stole it will be disappointed to find that the "copper" they were hoping to sell on is only fibre.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The pods are also plastered with advertising"

    ... that's why they are there - I gather planning rules that prevent people putting up advertising panels in city centre can be side-stepped by providing an amienity by the way of a phone box or ATM and then you are allowed to add adverstising panels to that. That's the reason people still install phoneboxes when (almost) everyone has a mobile now - they not really interested in the phone inside, its the ads they can sell on the outside that's the business.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's been a few years, but last time I was in a phone box, the only adverts where for local ladies of the night.....

      And no, I didn't try to contact them!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BTW, what was Street Hub 1.0 (or is that the new on-trend market-speak name for a phonebox?)

    1. Timbo

      "BTW, what was Street Hub 1.0"

      Wasn't that the way that you could share your own "wifi" with strangers who were walking along the street, outside your house?

      Wasn't it called "BT Openzone" or "BT FON" or something similar?

      (And now called "BT Wifi" I believe....)

  12. Sam Therapy


    Fuck my spats, it'll last 5 minutes at most.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Glasgow?

      I see you are an optimist :-)

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        Re: Glasgow?

        It would be quicker bit in Glasgow but all the vandals are too busy being off their tits on smack

  13. Plest Silver badge

    We cannot have nice things! We've proved it.

    We had a new rain shelter down my local train station about 3 years ago. Some absolute bellend thought that putting 12 panes of safety glass, yes glass, into a metal frame in the shape of an upside down "J" would be a good idea. It's safety glass rain shelter, perfectly safe and vandal proof. Wrong!!!

    My area is in the depths of Hertfordshire, not exactly a hub of gang crime or urban unrest. Well it took the bored youth and drunks 72 hours, yes just 3 days, to find objects to smash every single pane of safety glass and leave a lovely huge pile of little nuggets of glass and an empty frame making it useless as a rain shelter. They replaced the panes with clear plastic ( 4 weeks later! ) and shock, it's actually still there albeit covered in scratches and grafitti but still works as a shelter.

    This was a rain shelter, no electrics, just a metal frame with some clear panes to keep the rain and wind out and it was busted in a couple of days. Now stand up a plastic tent with some screens and seats, I reckon these BT tents will last around 5-10 mins max!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We cannot have nice things! We've proved it.

      IIRC polycarbonate clear sheets are 200 times stronger than glass for impacts. They do scratch though. I have a polycarbonate viewing window in front of my garden model train display. Seeing the passing preteens excitedly banging at it makes me think glass would have been a liability.

      I also blamed the kids for stripping off patches of the mock brick wallpaper. The other day I noticed that otherwise out-of-reach areas were appearing close to probable paw-holds for grey squirrels. They must have acquired a taste for the wallpaper paste.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We cannot have nice things! We've proved it.

        According to the BT man - squirrels were responsible for the crap quality of the phone line. Roofer blamed them for the guttering.

        So if anything happened to these pods - it will be squirrels' fault....

        1. Swarthy

          Re: We cannot have nice things! We've proved it.

          Definitely the squirrels' fault:

  14. JDPower666

    Hang on, so they're gonna put plastic boxes on the street with tech inside (at least a monitor judging by the pic) and expect them to last more than 5 mins?

    1. storner

      Gone in 3.. 2.. 1..

      Looks like an iMac on the picture - gotta give them credit for providing some nice kit, but I doubt it will last long.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


    "The hubs have been described as "iconic, digital smart city communication hubs" with creative roots that tap into modern, edgy, urban street design.

    I assume that was put out by the BT marketing department? It's incredibly rare for a new structure to gain "icon" status at it's unveiling. That's the sort of description that comes over time, either because people like it (often after initial misgivings), or because it's been part of the landscape for so long, eg power station cooling towers.

    1. ColinPa

      Re: Iconic?

      Iconic - as in an icon for "gone in 30 seconds"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    portable units to be wheeled to safety at night?

    Along with the many "how long will THAT last?" comments above, my first thought was "homeless sleeping place" ... which would not bother ME (people gotta sleep somewhere) but the downtown business district cheerleaders in my town (and, no doubt, in many others) have a jihad against homeless people (partly manifested as "how do we get these folks off the streets and into housing?" and partly as "I don't care how, but get 'em away, they're scaring the customers") and this would fuel their concerns. However, I can certainly see the utility of having such cubicles put on wheels so they can rolled out and plugged in in the morning, then unplugged and garaged at night. There is a library next to a park in my town where I think this might work (or at least merit a test period), maybe there are similar places in London and other U.K. cities too?

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: portable units to be wheeled to safety at night?

      Would it not be better to make the 'garage' into a useful place that provides the functions that this monstrosity provides, but with the advantage of a simple lockable door to render it unusable at night???

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: portable units to be wheeled to safety at night?

        "[...] a simple lockable door [...]"

        Judging by the attempted raid on my neighbour's garage door it needs to be bolt-cutter proof. CCTV showed the attempt lasted no more than a couple of minutes - before they found the third lock couldn't be cut.

        Another neighbour lost their bicycle to someone who opened their locked garage door in the house ground floor. The police officer showed where to bang once with your hand to free such a locked door. The sound is unlikely to disturb anyone.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: portable units to be wheeled to safety at night?

        True. I was thinking of places like libraries that have foyer or entry areas where stuff could be parked overnight but could not be installed permanently because these areas are used by customers during the day. But yes, a permanent lockable location with a handful of "stations" would be ideal.

  17. Chris G

    Saturday morning

    As I write this.

    Is it still there and still functional?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT and hubs....

    Well, BT might be better off sorting out the firmware on their full-fibre Smart Hub 2.0 rather than f**king around with glorified phone boxes that no one needs. Come on BT, please update your consumer hardware to at least meet current expectations of security and functionality.

  19. MikeGH

    and in 3 weeks they'll remove the "hub" for the next location - claim it was a promo and leave the hard-wired display stand in its place

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