BT has abandoned its plans to turn the humble phone box into an internet gateway for people to email and surf the web from following poor performance of the booths.

“BT had planned a large-scale roll-out of public multimedia kiosks, which has been reduced due to performance”, Julian Turner, head of the company's multimedia solutions division, said in a statement this weekend.

Four years after the initial launch of the internet booths only 1,300 of the 28,000 planned have been installed in high foot-fall places such as train stations and city centres.

Industry experts suggest that even these may be under threat and replaced by the more conventional phone booth.

BT insisted it had “no immediate plans” to axe the 1,300 terminals, and declined to provide details of their financial performance. However it did say that it was planning to move some kiosks “to locations with better revenue-earning potential”.

BT are no doubt blaming the increase of Wi-Fi hotspots and the ability to surf the Internet on a mobile phone as a cause of the poor performance.