SIX new high-tech phone boxes are to be installed across Southampton, after proposals were approved by city planners.

Owned by BT, the InLink machines will be placed in Portswood, Shirley, and also Southampton High Street, replacing older telephone boxes currently in place.

They will join 13 already set up devices across the city – each InLInk costs £50,000.

It’s not known when work will start on installing the devices, but all six applications were approved in the past month by the city council, with the final one being given the go-ahead on Monday (February 4).

The touch-screen machines, with the first being unveiled in London Road last July, offer free calls and superfast 1Gbps WiFi to devices within its 100 metre range.

They also include smart phone charging ports, a 999 button, maps, and information about services in the area.

InLink UK claims that since launching the devices in the city, they have saved users more than £24,000 in free phone calls.

As reported, Southampton was the first city in the south, outside of London, to get the high-tech devices. The InLink boxes were originally installed in the capital in 2017 and the firm plans to roll out a further 650 across the UK in the near future.

Neil Scoresby, BT’s general manager for Payphones and InLink, said: “We’re really excited by InLinkUK from BT and the popularity of its services, such as free ultrafast Wi-Fi and free calls, show that it’s proving a hit with customers.

“We’re in discussion with many local councils about installing more InLinks and we’re looking forward to rolling out InLinks to more London boroughs and major cities across the UK.”

The InLink project is part of BT’s plan to scrap 20,000 telephone boxes in the UK by 2022, as according to the company, their usage has dropped by 90% in the past 10 years.

It adds that the cost of maintaining the boxes is estimated at £6 million per year. However, they are still used by some groups, including the elderly and people who can’t afford mobile phones.

Nevertheless, the boxes have also been transformed and preserved under the Adopt a Kiosk scheme, which allows councils and community groups to buy them for just £1.

This has enabled more than 4,000 kiosks to be re-purposed as mini-libraries and art galleries or to house defibrillation machines, information centres, shops and exhibitions.