The days of the red phone box are numbered as BT is changing the colour of all of its new high street booths to blue.
The blue boxes are all fitted with public internet terminals that offer pay-as-you-go internet access, email and text messaging. The kiosks have a built-in keyboard and trackerball and offer hot links to a range of sites via the colour touchscreen display.
There are currently 1,000 e-payphones on the streets of Britain, with a further 8,000 planned by 2007. A further 20,000 will be placed in locations like airports, shopping centres and railway stations.
The addition of email, web surfing and text messaging to phone boxes is intended to give the kiosks a new lease of life, as the rise of the mobile phone has undermined the need for public payphones.
The idea behind the colour change is to help the public identify the new payphones with their extra features. "The new blue branding will make them easy to spot. Red has been the standard colour of phone boxes for many years now and the change to blue for internet kiosks is a major departure from tradition, but… it's perfect for the new kiosks", explains Paul Hendron, director of BT Payphones.
But Londoners should prepare themselves for confusion. The 13 existing internet-enabled phone boxes in the city will remain red, as they are Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s original cast-iron 1930s design and are of historical value.