October 18, 2004

Payphones to Music Stations

BT Putting Music On the Streets

Times Online - Newspaper Edition

BT’s latest gig is payphones that masquerade as jukeboxes. Under plans now being drawn up, BT will offer a facility at payphones that allows users to download songs while on the move.

The plan, aimed at curbing rapidly falling revenues in the group’s payphone division, would see BT link up with Apple’s iTunes or another content provider to transform phone boxes across Britain into music kiosks.

Consumers out shopping or on their way to work could pay to tap into a database of songs for iPods or other portable music players they could download and play on the go. The revenue would be split between the content provider and BT. Nice.

The group confirmed to The Times that it was in talks with various parties, although it refused to disclose which ones. Cool.

The proposal comes after fears in BT that Ofcom, the regulator, will not agree to relax the historic agreement under which the company is forced to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of Britains payphones.With the boom in mobile phones, the former telecoms monopoly is facing mounting losses in providing payphones. Sixty per cent of Britains street phone boxes are loss-making and the number of calls made from them has fallen by half.

BT has admitted that it is reviewing whether it can disconnect 8,000 unprofitable street phones from its 100,000 strong portfolio.

In its submission to Ofcom, which is reviewing the sector, BT has lobbied for a relaxation of the rules and demanded that mobile operators should pay towards the upkeep of the boxes.

If Ofcom refuses to agree to that plan when it reports back next month, BT will have to find new ways of generating cash from phone boxes.

One idea that has already proved a success is providing internet access in the boxes. In some areas BT has also linked with local authorities to enable them to provide electronic access to their services in phone boxes.

A spokesman for BT said: There are discussions going on at the moment (about the music kiosks) and there is something in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the group has announced that it is set to launch trials on a new Google TV video on demand service to enable domestic broadband customers to click into a huge archive of film and television programmes.

And that rocks, dude.

KNO - KioskNews.Org: BT putting music on the streets

Posted by Craig at October 18, 2004 10:50 PM