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February 23, 2013

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Phone booth update: Wi-Fi, touch panel

SHANGHAI'S 8,000 public phone booths, used less and less, will become new smart devices with features including Wi-Fi and touch-screens with public transportation and weather information, officials said yesterday.

The plan, however, still needs the support of the electricity authorities and other agencies, according to officials at China Telecom's Shanghai branch, which already have added Wi-Fi to some booths.

Shanghai Telecom, the operator of the local 8,000 booths, is losing money because people are using mobile phones more often.

Shanghai Telecom has added Wi-Fi functions in 500 downtown booths like the ones in Yuyuan, Fuzhou Road and in Xujiahui. People with Wi-Fi devices like iPad and smart phones are able to log onto the Internet near the booths.

The carrier also plans to change the booths into smart devices with touch-screens that allow users to check transportation, weather and other information on them.

"It requires a lot of money and support of urban land and electricity authorities. It takes time and effort," said a China Telecom official, who declined to be identified.

In Beijing, there are such devices in old phone booths offering information and utility bill payment functions, financed by local governments and carriers.


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