Futuristic phone boxes: City hubs will host wifi and phone-charging ports

New BT Hubs could replace telephone kiosks in Norwich, including the one in Lilburne Avenue

New BT Hubs could replace telephone kiosks in Norwich, including the one in Lilburne Avenue - Credit: Google/BT

They were once the cornerstones of communication - and nigh on the only way to get hold of people when out and about.

But with the rise of mobile phones the humble telephone box has found itself going extinct.

But now boxes around the city will be replaced by their futuristic peers offering free phone calls, ultrafast internet connection and USB charging ports.

BT has applied to the city council for 11 new BT Street Hubs in Norwich - including two of its redundant phone boxes in Lilburne Avenue and Plumstead Road.

New BT Street Hubs could be installed in Norwich

New BT Street Hubs could be installed in Norwich - Credit: BT

The structures are similar in size to the existing phone boxes and include 75in digital displays, along with built-in touch-screen tablets.

They have been launched as part of the centenary of the first telephone kiosks, which were designed in 1921.

A spokesman for BT said: "We have submitted planning applications for 11 new Street Hub 2.0 sites in Norwich.

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"We’re working collaboratively with Norwich City Council as we look to install Street Hub 2.0 units across the area.

"Over 400 of our existing Street Hub units are already delivering a wide range of economic, social and technology benefits to communities and local councils up and down the country – from connecting local people, businesses and visitors to free ultrafast Wi-Fi, to ensuring that people can contact the emergency services or charity helplines in times of need."

And if the plans are approved one of the first boxes to be replaced is a kiosk with an already storied past.

The Plumstead Road box in 2007 was taken out in a crash which saw a vehicle overturn and collide with it.

Car which collided with telephone box and overturned late on Saturday afternoon <0331> in Plumstead

One of the phone boxes due to be replaced was once crashing into back in 2007 - Credit: Archant © 2007

It would also be far from the first time former phone boxes have been repurposed, with others in the city used as shops, including one now used in Tombland as a cactus stall.

The BT spokesman added: "Our new Street Hub 2.0 units introduce upgraded features such as the functionality to provide environment monitoring for local authorities, the ability to boost 4G/5G mobile coverage and free screen time to local authorities to help promote local community services.

"BT recently announced plans to roll out more than 200 Street Hub 2.0 units to new sites across the UK over the next year."

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