New World Payphones

Pre-paid telephone cards as a means of payment in UK public payphones in the 1990s and early 2000's wasn't just limited to British Telecom (BT) and Mercury Communications. Another company to use them was New World Payphones (NWP), and in fact NWP after Mercury was brought by Interphone in 1995 was the largest independent operator of public payphones in Great Britain. What's more their network of telephone boxes and payphones still exists today in 2023.

New World Payphones logo on payphone window

New World Payphones Phonecards

New World Payphones first introduced their Phonecards in 1996 and over the following years, their cards used three different types of technology. The first New World telephone cards named CardLink used a magnetic strip (similar to Mercurycards). Second came micro chip technology and these cards were called Smartz cards. The third type issued were remote cards named TalkAround cards.

Both the magnetic and chip cards needed to be inserted longways into the payphone to make a call. The nature of remote cards, meant that the TalkAround cards could be used from almost all phones (private or public) simply be dialing an 0800 number and entering the cards unique number found on the reverse.

If you're collecting New World Payphone telephone cards then you might like to consider buying World Phonecard Catalogue UK 2. The catalogue covers all New World issues from CardLink cards right through to the remote issues in 1997.

New World Network

New World Payphone's public telephones first started to appear on the streets of London, UK in August 1996. By September of the following year the network had grown to 500, and by the beginning of 1999 that figure had more than doubled to 1,200 public phone booths.

The company strategy was to largely target the most profitable locations for its payphone network at 'managed locations' e.g. airports, hotels, etc and prime city centre locations. A quote from Mark Purdy of the Consumers Association in 1999 referring to New World Payphones said "Unsurprisingly, new entrants target profitable locations with little incentive to cover residential or rural areas."

New World's public network continued to grow thanks to the acquisition of a number of independent payphone companies and their prime kiosk locations. These companies include: Paytelco.

New World Payphones Telephone boxes

New World Payphone's and BT K6 Telephone Boxes in LondonNew World telephone box design hasn't changed since they were first introduced. In total there are three different designs. In Central London in the borough of Westminster New World used mainly K6 telephone boxes, the iconic design from Sir Giles Gilbert Scott are better known to be traditionally used by BT. To differentiate from BT's bright red K6's and to also conform with Westminister's planning regulations all of the New World kiosk no. 6 phone boxes were painted black with gold detailing to the crown.

Pictured right - In the foreground and painted black two New World Payphone K6 telephone kiosks. While in the background a rival BT K6 painted red.

Wifi here - New World Payphone kiosk in Central LondonNew World's two other designs brought a modern looking telephone kiosk to the streets of London and other large cities. The first very distinct kiosk design was painted red with yellow detailing with large glass windows to three sides. The second design and more conservative looking was a similar kiosk, but instead of the bright red finish, a black with yellow design was used instead.

Today most of New World's telephone kiosk have been Wifi enabled to create Wifi hot spots. In addition as phonecall revenue is down thanks to the mobile phone, most modern style telephone boxes like the one pictured right have one whole side devoted to advertising.

For more photos of New World Payphone and other British telephone boxes, view them on the social media website Pinterest.

View photos of advertisers using modern telephone kiosks to promote their services and goods.

Spectrum Interactive

New World Payphones themselves have also been acquired and changed their trading name a number of times too. The first name change was to NWP Spectrum, then they became known as Spectrum Interactive. More recently they have been brought out by a company called Arqiva.

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Last updated: 1st January 2023

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