As some may know, aql is a Regulated Telecommunications Operator and has the heart of it's operations in Leeds, including several regionally significant datacentres. aql's main datacentre is also the main data hub for the city.
As part of aql's rollout of metropolitan fibre, it is to deploy 24 'old' phone boxes to house network equipment. The phone boxes are to be reconditioned iconic phone boxes from the 1930's as designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who also designed Battersea Power Station and Liverpool Cathedral amongst other achievements over a long career).
Over the past years, aql has acquired expertise in deploying low power network systems. This allows the boxes to be solar powered - so although they are blue in colour..they're also green!
Not only will the boxes house aql's fibre network equipment, they will also provide free wifi access around the City. aql intends to start with the South of the city where internet connectivity is not as developed as elsewhere in the district.
The boxes will be locked and all services will be accessed from the outside of the boxes themselves via touch panels behind the existing glass. This will allow the public to make phone calls, emergency calls and find out local information. A map of locations will be available soon.
Time Travel : The boxes, which will be deployed in areas of interest around the city, will also allow members of the public to leave video 'blogs' and soundbites of their memories of the area in past times. This information will be archived and it's intended to be shared with other portals which exhibit historic city information such as www.Leodis.org.
LEODIS : This is the name given to the boxes and to the project. Leodis is the old English name for Leeds. In this case it stands for Leeds Electronic Ordnance & Digital Information System !
The Doctor - aql's own Doctor - CEO and Founder, Dr Adam Beaumont comments "We wanted to create an icon for Leeds - something unique which if you had your photo taken next to it and uploaded it, for example, to facebook, friends would say - aha ! you must be in Leeds! We're hoping that the boxes become something that the residents accept as part of the cityscape".
Lurene Joseph, Chief Executive of Leeds and Partners, said: “These boxes are a great illustration of Leeds’ digital ability and confidence and will be another excellent part of the city’s infrastructure. They’re forward looking, innovative but rooted in strong traditions and are another example of an ambitious young company driving forward enterprise, jobs and opportunity in Leeds.”