Do people still use telephone boxes?

  Blackhat 17:11 28 Feb 11
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These things must have a large budget for maintenance.

I live in a suburb of Birmingham and my local High Street is about 1 mile long, it has 14 public telephone boxes! I rarely see anyone using them and have never done so myself (I have no idea how many of them actually work).

Surely there is no need for that many when so many people now have mobiles.

I can understand the need for them in rural areas but not so much in the cities anymore.

  Forum Editor 17:21 28 Feb 11

and around 60% of them don't take enough to cover their maintenance costs - calls from payphones have fallen by over 50% in the last three years.

The reason is that there is at least one phone in 99% of UK homes, and often there are two or three. The problem for BT is that its Universal Service Obligation requires it to provide adequate payphone coverage for the whole country. They're not used regularly, but in a real emergency (flat battery or no mobile signal) a payphone could be a life-saver.

  octal 17:23 28 Feb 11

This is a picture of our local phone box click here I certainly wouldn't use it, it is used by the local vagrants as a urinal, you never know what you might catch putting the receiver up to your ear.

  peter99co 17:52 28 Feb 11

We have a box down the road that is used by the young ones as a shelter among other things and it is over 40 years since I used it to phone for a Midwife!

Some villages adopt their box and look after it themselves.

My friend has bought an old red one and it has a phone extension in it at the bottom of his garden.

They are NOT cheap.

It is a long time since I saw a sign "You may phone from here" over a shop front.

  spuds 18:11 28 Feb 11

In our local town centre there use to be Mercury and other telephone companies, plus BT who had boxes virtually touching each other.

The other companies have since vanished, and now there are a very few BT boxes about, and those remaining now seem to be designed to prevent loitering.

  Blackhat 18:12 28 Feb 11

If someone in planning at BT sat down today to meet their Universal Service Obligation from scratch, I wonder how many public boxes there would be, taking into consideration current figures and budgets.

I bet they wouldn’t be putting 14 in 1 mile. Also, regarding emergencies, one block of 4 boxes are within 100 yards of two commercial premises that are open 24/7 and 200 yards from the police station (still open 24/7).

If calls from payphones have fallen 50% in the last 3 years then there must come a time soon when there is a reduction in payphones purely on economics? Somewhere down the line public is paying for these 60% that don't cover their maintenance costs.

  morddwyd 19:59 28 Feb 11

Still well used judging by the amount of condoms, urine and needles inside.

  Covergirl 12:19 01 Mar 11

Your local urinal also has a queue forming !!

FE - you missed the main reason why public call boxes are under utilised - COST !

How much is it now to make a call from a phone box? Is it minimum 10p? I'm not sure but can you actually make a call for 10p?

I think they are touting 60p for a 30 minute landline call - is this service any use to anybody? When was the last time you needed a public call box for anything other than "are you in", "where are you" or "come and pick us up"

  Quickbeam 12:24 01 Mar 11

If it wasn't for the Universal Service Obligation requirement they would have disappeared years ago. Go back to the mid '70s when household landlines were just taking off for the non professionals, you would have regular weekend queues with people wanting to ring family. I think BT have a case for arguing to only supply basic emergency only boxes in future.

  spuds 12:29 01 Mar 11

You would still end up with the drunk demanding a taxi home.

  Quickbeam 13:07 01 Mar 11

You can still tell them where to go:)

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