FREE wi-fi and phonecalls are now a reality in Portsmouth following the installation of 12 state-of-the-art communication hubs.
This week marked the official opening of InLinks in the city, which also provide phone charging, maps and access to the Portsmouth City Council website at no cost to the public.
Provided by InLinkUK in partnership with BT, each point has replaced two traditional phoneboxes in a bid to free up more space for pedestrians.
Matthew Trigg, from InLinkUK, explained the benefits of the hubs. He said: 'InLinks work to connect communities and reduce digital inequality. Everybody may have a phone these days but not everyone has access to wi-fi and data.
'With the roll-out of InLinks across the country they will also provide familiarity for visitors to the city who will recognise them and be able to use them to find their way around or charge up their phone.
'For every InLink installed we remove two old phoneboxes at no cost to the council. It's quite exciting to be able to connect communities, provide free phone calls and give space back.'
Portsmouth City Council's head of regeneration, Cllr Ben Dowling, welcomed the devices. 'I am very pleased that we will be bringing new technology into our public spaces for everybody to use and reducing the amount of areas taken up by old-style phoneboxes,' he said.
'The internet is part of every day life for people in Portsmouth and if the InLinks mean that we can provide easy access to the internet for those who don't have it at home then that's really positive.'
Hampshire Chamber of Commerce member Mark Baulch, agreed. He added: 'It's such a great thing especially here in Portsmouth where Portsmouth City Council is pushing towards regeneration which we have been very supportive of at the chamber.
'From a chamber survey it showed that regeneration was one of the top issues for the city.
'The InLinks have been in Southampton for two months and already we have seen people getting the benefits from them.'
The 12 communication points in Portsmouth have replaced 24 old BT phoneboxes in areas such as Commercial Road and Palmerston Road. Nine of the hubs are currently live, and the remaining three will go online by the end of October.
Across the UK there are now more than 300 InLinks in cities including Southampton, London and Glasgow.
InLinks come at no cost to taxpayers as their installation and services are all paid for by advertising on their screens. Five per cent of screen time will be given for free to Portsmouth City Council for community announcements.