Data communications company Lde Digital Services has teamed up with the parish council in Purton near Swindon to turn its original red phone box into a 21st century communications centre and community asset.
The firm, based nearby at Braydon, has carried out what it believes is a unique transformation of the box by installing state-of-the-art technology and giving it a new lease of life.
The box, which will be officially launched by North Wiltshire MP James Gray this Friday, will provide high-speed Wi-Fi internet access and it will send visitors to Purton a text message welcoming them to the village, while inside it boasts an information screen providing a map of the village and community information.
There is also a webcam in the box giving the world a glimpse of the village – via the internet.
And it can still be used in the traditional way to make phone calls – and as it is sponsored by Lde these are mainly free.
Ben Wildeboer from Lde said: “In its time the traditional red telephone box was a leading-edge communications platform, and throughout the 20th century was gradually updated as technology improved.
“However, with the advent of mobile phones and the internet it was clear to us that its role had to change significantly and we feel strongly that it retains its designated role as a communications facility.”
Purton’s box has now been restored back to its former glory with a fresh paint job – red, of course – and new windows and floor.
Purton Parish Council chairman Ray Thomas said: “It was clear that BT had no interest in the box and it was deteriorating rapidly. The parish council considered its adoption from BT but we could not find a suitable use for it – a book swap or art gallery were not suitable for a listed phone box. We were then approached by Lde with this very interesting proposition.”
It even has a hi-tech answer to the age-old problems commonly associated with phone boxes – vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
Lde says the box can ‘fight back’ by sending a message to the parish council via its phone line if someone is tampering with the equipment while its camera will capture their image to help track them down.
Launched in 1988, Lde provides managed digital services such as mobile IP, IP CCTV and also VoIP telephony to a range of clients including the BBC, Watson Petroleum, Burdens and Cotswold Airport.