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BT ponders music downloads for payphones

Boon for iPod muggers?

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UK telco BT could soon be selling digital music through its 70,000 payphones if talks with a major online music provider prove fruitful.

According to a BBC report, the telco wants to allow owners of portable music players to hook up their devices to modified payphones, then pay for and download songs.

The scheme is being considered as a way of getting the payphone network to start making money again. While maintenance costs haven't fallen, usage has, thanks to mobile phones. Only 60 per cent of BT's public call boxes and booths make money.

Given the rise in iPod-related crime, with muggers increasingly targeting owners of white earphones, we're not entirely sure owners of expensive gadgets will be happy standing around showing their prized possession to all and sundry as they wait for the latest number one single to download.

One benefit, however, could be the opportunity to recharge empty iPod batteries, a facility not mentioned by BT and which we offer to the telco at our usual commission rate. Again, we wonder how many users will be willing to make it quite so obvious that they're carrying anything to tempt the more light-fingered (or large-fisted) members of society.

BT already operates 1200-odd Internet access kiosks, mostly in city centres, and it's these that the company is initially considering modifying to add music player connectors.

The BT scheme follows similar moves by other payphone operators to find new revenue streams. In the UK, NWP Spectrum last year partnered with Wi-Fi operator The Cloud to install hotspots in payphones. Australian telco Telstra is taking that idea a stage further to equip payphones with kit needed to support financial district-wide Wi-Fi zones. &reg

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iPod: this season's must-have for muggers
Aussie telco moots payphone Wi-Fi hotzones
Payphone deal to take Cloud's hotspot tally to 10,000
Kiosks charge phones on the go
BT payphones to become phone aerials
The pay-phone is not dead!

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