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Internet Payphones launched 86

Stephen writes "BT has opened the first payphone with internet access. It's expensive, however, at 10p (16c) per minute. Read all about it at the BBC. " Here's my question: The phone books always get destroyed, the booths managled-how long is it going to take for for hoodlums to destroy these things?
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Internet Payphones launched

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  • I was under the impression that BCTel was experimenting with these months ago in Vancouver.
  • Have you tried using pay phones in England? Do you know how expensive they are? 10p a minute's quite cheap, by comparison. when I was trying to call friends in London from Bath, I was putting in 10p every 30 seconds or so...
  • I've seen internet pay-terminals using
    standard phone cards in Paris about one year
  • by rnt ( 31403 ) on Thursday July 15, 1999 @02:04PM (#1800301)
    Funny thing with those dutch Internet kiosks was that some websites could crash the browser it used ( had a section to kill various browsers).

    With the browserapplication killed you got an all too familiar desktop... yep, the damn thing ran ms-windows and guess what? MSIE was also installed... funny. After crashing the browser wich checked your phonecard you could go on for free with MSIE or download another browser which didn't do anything with the phonecard at all.

    The dutch telecom company was kind enough to put one of those thingies at the campsite of the Hacking In Progres [] conference.

    The great idea was to make a "backup" of the harddisk onto one of the many computers on HIP (each with quite anonymous IP numbers) just to see what was on it and maybe even installing Linux on the kiosk.

    We had it all planned...

    Imagine the surprise of those dutch PTT engineers when they would have found out their kiosk suddenly ran an entirely different operating system!

    Unfortunately someone else got a bit impatient and crashed the thing real good before we got a chance to implement our Evil Plans... It wouldn't boot anymore, so playtime was over. :-(

    Too bad, it didn't seem too complicated to have it run Linux and figure out a way to make the chipcardreader/writer work.

    I'm not sure if I'll ever trust those public Internet Kiosks with passwords... A few years ago they were just a bit too public! Maybe security is tightened a bit, but then again, I guess I'm just paranoid...

    But still, I like the idea of being able to read slashdot at any moment, even in the pouring rain on the street!
  • That statement is totally false.
    Why is the web so popular? because its the most marketable part of the internet (along with email).

    The people who want to make money from the internet are the ones who influence people to believe what you just said.
  • Hmm, Amsterdam has these things for years now.
    And no, they are not useful, other than to spend a few cents to let it display _your_ homepage before walking away.
  • So, 10p/minute. It's nice to see BT provide another low-cost service, as usual.

  • OzEmail has had IP@T (Internet Public Access Terminals) in clubs, centres, and coach 'interchanges' for years. The price is pretty high though. Been at least a year since I used one, I don't know what the price is like nowadays.
  • did you bother to read the article?

    easyeverything, the new internet cafe (with five hundred terminals - largest net cafe in the world, apparently) near victoria station in london is £1/hr - i heard, but can't confirm, that there were plans to give you a free hours connection when you bought a coffee.

  • It was in East Meadow and had a Cheesecake Factory restaurant in it (went there for dinner). It's near ABC housewares or something like that. HTH.
  • Well the WWW is the internet if you forget news, ICQ, IRC, FTP, Telnet, whois........

    Admittedly all those have various web portals but with only a few rare exceptions they all suck bigtime.

    Just my £0.02 + V.A.T
  • This is nothing new. I saw an "internet booth" in a truckstop in Spartanburg, SC, for 25 cents/min., in January of this year.

    Hee hee. Firecrackers, internet porn, and a Wendy's in one convenient location.

  • Well well well, this page was "Last modified: July 02, 1997":
    The machine was first deployed about 6 months before that.
  • Around this area the web cam would be stolen in a matter of hours, and probably the rest of the things.
  • Internet payphones have been in the new HongKong
    airport from day one. Judging from the frustration of the people trying to use them, they weren't popular. But I admit, the navigation was confusing. They tried to fit so much advertising on the screen it was hard to see the little navigation icons. I eventually got to the part where I was using the onscreen keyboard to type an email. I hit [Send] and bingo - "Sorry there is a network error". Yeah I'll try those again - NOT!

    Our next contestant is .... Bluetooth !
    Come on down Bluetooth ...
    The time is right.

  • Video e-mail - users can take a photo of themselves at the terminal and attach it to an e-mail.

    Oh, good. I was just thinking today that checking my e-mail wasn't slow enough already...


  • I've found that Win95 based infokiosks are pretty easy to fuck up, though. We had a few of those outside our school, and we just tapped the screen at different locations simultaneously until it gave us an error message and allowed us to start the windows painting program and leave a little message...

    Of course, installing all the accessories with win95 on a kiosk isn't very smart...
    /El Niño
  • So you're saying that if your girlfriend sent an email to you with her picture on it from England that you would be angry?

    Depends on who else was in the picture, I'd bet!

    It's just a novelty concept, really. Nobody but wacky tourists who wanna say "Hey, ma, I'm at the airport! Here's a picture!" will think of plunking down exorbitant prices to say, well, essentially "Hey, ma, I'm at the airport!"

    Those truly subversive enough will devise signs 'n things to place in the view of those webcams. Little penguins or whatnot to be displayed around the world. Have at it.

  • I've seen a lot of phone booths that were trashed, but very few that were actually disabled. Put the display behind armor glass or thick polycarbonate, make the keyboard the same as the button panels they use now, and I think they will survive.

    I'm looking forward to being able to pull up an electronic directory instead of just looking in disgust at where the paper one used to be.
  • Sounds reminiscent of Dogs In Space (an Australian indie film from the 80s).

    On occasion I've thought that it'd be cool to build a huge pyramid of TVs somewhere, all wired up to show videos (news, camera footage, porn, cartoons, anything), and then set fire to it, all in the name of Art.

    Because you can do anything in the name of Art amd get away with it.
  • Wait for the spams you'll get with this. Full-length infomercials, and porn segments with strategically placed URL banners. Aaiiee!
  • Hasn't the concept of flat rate access hit there yet? It hit here (US) years ago...

  • first= touchscreen + national coverage (i.e you do know where they are!) + they don't keep falling over!! this was sent on one!!
  • This either gets (1) ignored because there's nothing truly useful about them or (2) swamped because they're too useful.

    Or (3) barraged with porn. Replace the stickers on the phone booths with multimedia "call-in" ads for personal services instead? The mind boggles.


    It is often easer to gain forgiveness than permission
  • by bafful ( 27467 ) on Thursday July 15, 1999 @12:28PM (#1800331) Homepage
    The article says, "no matter how hard you hit the screen with the phone receiver in frustration, it will not break". Of course, that's something that has to be tried, isn't it?
  • Well, in Holland they've had public Internet Kiosks for quite a while now. They use the same phonecard as the phone system does, and the rates seem quite reasonable. It seems to be a comptetition who can leave it showing the worst porn site.

    Do they not qualify as an "internet phone booth"?
  • How long before someone hacks one to spawn a shoutcast server whenever someone picks up the phone? (:

    Seriously though, if they expect any serious person to use it for Internet access for any reasonable period of time, they'd better add reclining seats in front of them.

    Random Link o' Humour: Slashdot Trading Cards []

  • There are several companies that have been beta testing in the US with this kind of equipment. One of them in downtown Philadelphia. Makes me wonder what the going rate for bulletproofing is.
  • On the top level of the Mall of America there are a couple of pay internet kiosks. Never used them or for that matter seen them in use. They've been there over a year as far as I can recall.

  • The best use for these boots is to do things that that should not be too easy to traced back. The bucket stops at the public internet boot. The only thing to check is for the security cameras and not to behave stupidly.

    But that goes for all things.

  • by Enry ( 630 )
    I saw one in the Dallas airport over a year ago. Last week I was on Long Island and saw one in a mall. It was $.08/min IIRC.
  • A good idea, I think. It'll do spectacularly well in the first few months until the novelty of paying 16 cents a minute for email wears off. I don't see it catching on in any big way until they drop the price dramatically.

    Personally, I wouldn't use it. The only time I'd actually use it would be when I didn't have access to a computer, and that only happens when I'm travelling (and I don't want access to a computer!). Any other time I could just pop into an Internet cafe and check email there -- much cheaper, and a better environment than a street corner.
  • These icky things'll probably only be placed where 'high-class', rich, 'IT'-snobs, bisuness creeps circulate. Maybe like airports et cetera. You know those people with suits and cellphones, laptops with Windows 98 on.
  • They should ofcourse attach a webcam to them so the vandals can be brought to justice!
    Or perhaps not ..
  • How secure are these things? Is it possible for someone to crack into one and have fun with you (like adding an extra $0.02/minute to your charge and directing it to an account in Switzerland? ;) ). Just curious....

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?
  • Whoopi, now people can hack from a payphone.
  • We built such a system in Sweden 3 years ago, and
    I think it was pretty secure, even though we used
    Windows 95. Whe used special hardware to disable
    some keys on the keyboard, so that, for example,
    ctrl-alt-delete was impossible. There was also no
    task bar at the bottom of the screen. If you used
    a real OS, such as Linux, I guess, or maybe a
    JavaStation, I think they can be made rock solid,
    except if you used a tough saw and opened the case
    and started poking around in the hardware.
  • Internet capable phones where all over the place when I was in Amsterdam.

    They used a large LCD tilted landscape style and cost a fortune to use.. Looked like some kind of customm OS deal to me, but I didn't actually use one.

    I'm all for this kind of stuff.. I'll never use it, but when I do, it will be a life saver.
    And the anonymous aspect is nice too.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Back when I was in tech school and fixing TV sets for fun (then not knowing what the heck to do with them, as I don't encourage television on anybody) I used to have some fun with the clunkers by trying to smash in the screens. The glass face on a CRT is very thick. I remember a few times bouncing a hammer against the face of one (with proper eye protection and all, of course). Even hurling a 12" portable face down onto the street wouldn't break it.

    We did throw a 19" color set off my third floor balcony one night, and it made one heck of a *pop* when it hit the ground. Left a little crater in the lawn, tiny bits of glass, and the wire/anode guts out of the CRT (no trace of the CRT glass of any size remained.) Good thing there wasn't anybody down there.

    Ah, the irresponsible college days.
  • Internet kiosks? Or is it just WEB kiosks? Everone seems to forget that the internet is more than just the WWW.
  • There are weatherproofed internet kiosks scattered around the Netherlands, often alongside phone booths and near the VVV (tourist info) offices. They run a generic web browser on an x86 processor, and eat prepaid telephone cards; I found them a great help when I was on a trip to Overijssel in March.

    The manufacturer has a picture of a kiosk here [].

  • They were set to install these things in Australia, with all the housing setup around the streets. Then they realised that computers don't work too well in the rain - not to mention the vandals. So now there are lots of empty PC housings around our streets. Although there are some indoors...
    • The Evening Standard article on this says `E-mail messages can be read or sent using a personal password via BT's own e-mail service..'. How difficult would it have been to have a simple, generic POP3 client on the thing?

    • Also from ES: `The Internet is searchable in the usual way, although screened to exclude sites that BT coyly calls "unsuitable".' Great: random acts of censorship by software, which is a Good Thing, honest []. I wonder if competitors' webmail services are suitable viewing or not. Don't forget this is the company that searched subscribers' 'phone bills for calls to ISPs and then called them to flog their own internet service.

    • Video e-mail - users can take a photo of themselves at the terminal and attach it to an e-mail. Yum. Does it also come with a built in, daemon controlled mallet I can use to LART anyone who tries to mail me one of those?

  • Actually...In Dallas, TX and Houston, TX in some of the more swanky type hotels their have been payphones with internet access...I believe it was $5 to conncet to the interet for 3 minutes...I also remember testing it out and it taking 3 minutes for the first part of a page to load...DOH!
  • "wow look at the big fire"

  • And growing up means getting a arrogant attitude, buying lots of useless hardware?
  • It'll do spectacularly well in the first few months until the novelty of paying 16 cents a minute for email wears off.

    Um, this is Britain, remember? Where even if you use an ISP with no monthly charge, you still have to pay local call charges by the minute (4p minimum, then about 2p/min). The alternatives, if you're on the move, are even more expensive: using a mobile to call your ISP looks cool but costs the earth.
  • I saw, and used, an internet payphone in the mall at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii back in '96.

    These things would be good only for checking while away from home without a laptop...
  • There's also a bunch in the San Francisco airport, if I remember correctly from the last time I was there.. They're quite useful actually; you can easily check your regular pop mail and they even give you 5 free minutes (or 10, i can't remember) and then it's fairly cheap after that.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    No, the internet is just the WWW now. Try to bring up a Gopher client if you doubt me.

    Usenet is the sewer that runs beneath the WWW, and telnet is the service portal that the jolly little men in blue uniforms use to maintain it all.

    The internet, per se, is dead. There may be a few tremors of various limbs and body parts as rigor mortis sets in, but the heart has stopped.

    Deal with it.
  • Isn't that why Kinko's has internet access? :)

    And why would you want to hack something anonymously? When I hack things, I usually show off my good work...
    Cracking is a different story.

    - funkwater
  • We haven't quite got the ability to 'surf' from the payphone, but there are a couple (as in one or two) phones in places like the Airport and the City area that have touch screens and are connected to the 'net so you have the ability to search the web based phone directories and stuff. From what I've seen (but haven't tried) if you've got a smartcard phone card (which all of the new ones are) you can store 'quick dial' numbers on the card.

    Seems pretty convenient, though from what I saw of the one I tried at the airport last year it's a bit slow (probably just a normal modem connection to the 'net or something). This is in Sydney by the way, I don't know what it's like in other areas of Australia but from the looks of it it's just a small pilot for now.

  • In Holland we've had these for some time now and I haven't seen one destroyed but I know of them getting hacked and not being usable after that anymore;)
  • Real Hackers (TM) can hack from payphones for ages. In fact, they don't need a modem, they just whistle the right tunes into the receiver... :-)
  • This seems to be against the main trend these days, which is toward 'intimist' technology - mobile, wearable, personal... wireless.

    The phonecos understand that they stand to gain a great deal by pushing that trend; for them the traditional business of fixed phones meant incurring a responsibility to ensure that all phones worked properly, and all locations had access to phone service.

    With mobiles it's almost the reverse - it's expected that the user, not the phoneco, will do whatever is necessary to improve a bad connection; e.g. move out of a building. And users are generally willing to pay a higher per-minute fee if the operator gives better coverage. IOW, good phone service is no longer something you can take for granted - you want it, you'll have to pay for it.

    This side of the Channel, France Telecom recently announced a surcharge on prepaid calling cards to "cover phone booth maintenance costs". I'd bet good money that this is only the first step in a process which will eventually result in the disappearance of phone booths altogether.

    A PR stunt is all this is, IMHO.
  • Its good to see that BT are still as arrogant as ever, claiming a world first ! These things have existed in france for a while...but the price per minute is still stupidly expensive
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you used Linux there would have to be a phonebook sized printout hanging from a wire beneath it with the source code listing in it. If the listing book got trashed, the ghost of RMS would be invoked and a speaker on the side of it would squawck stuff about GNU/Linux. It wouldn't take real money, but instead would require you to buy little tokens with a snorting Gnu on the obverse and a bust of Linus on the reverse.
  • Well, when I was in college [] my friends and I did a performance art piece for open mic night where we smashed up a tv.

    It began with some nice space music playing as we slowly danced around in ignorant bliss. Then a loud shriek occurred, indicating that we were suddenly aware of the annoying tv. We retrived some long wooden sticks. One guy ran at the TV and fairly easily smashed the picture tube with his stick.

    We proceeded to pulverize the tv completely, smashing it up for about 5 minutes. End of show.

    It was a shame that we didn't do such a good job sweeping up the glass and debris because some lamers came out next in barefoot to do a cover of a Depeche Mode song.

    Take heed, all you pre-college slashheads out there. Contrast this wonderfully creative way of destoying a tv with the lame way the AC did in tech school. Liberal arts schools are the way to go.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Real hackers would do that perhaps once, to show that it could be done, and then find a better way, that doesn't require walking outside.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.