South African network operator Telkom is reportedly looking into turning its public payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots, BusinessTech reports. Chief marketing executive Enzo Scarcella said that the idea is still in its infancy, with Telkom testing the feasibility of creating data hotspots. The executive was cited as saying: ‘We have got the infrastructure, we have got cables going to that payphone, and the next phase of connectivity is data, rather than voice telephony. And so the idea is, how do we turn those payphones into data Wi-Fi hotspots that people can use [with] smart devices.’ Scarcella said that the payphones could become Wi-Fi hotspots, each offering coverage within a 10m radius, adding that the idea would be to make the service free.
Telkom’s chief operating officer Brian Armstrong previously admitted that the group has around 45,000 payphones on its network. The director revealed that Telkom decommissioned as many as 1,400 phones in 2013, adding that as few as 2,000 were still profitable.