By 2022 British Telecom is looking to remove 20,000 of the remaining 40,000 phone boxes left in the United Kingdom. This is following BT’s continued review of the payphone service, which recently found that one third of remaining telephone boxes are never used to make a call and more than half of phone boxes lose money.
BT estimate that they spend roughly £6,000,000 a year on maintaining the telephone boxes!
This is largely due to the fact that the majority of people in recent years have access to mobile phones, which was not the case when telephone boxes were at their height in 1992, when there were 92,00 telephone boxes in the country. Now, recent studies have shown that roughly 93% of all people in the UK own a mobile phone, with 3G or 4G mobile internet now available in 98% of the country. With these numbers in mind, it is unsurprising that BT are looking to alternatives to the traditional payphone boxes.
BT are looking to replace some phone boxes with inLinkUK kiosks, that offer high-speed internet, free UK calls, and USB charging ports. Over 750 of these are being installed across the country, particularly in London. They are offering other ways to replace the boxes too – with their Adopt a Kiosk scheme some individuals and communities have repurposed inactive phone boxes into shops, libraries, or even a place to store defibrillators.
For those that still use payphones, including children, the elderly, and those who do not own mobile phones, there are ways for them to save their local payphones. If BT are looking to remove the only payphone within a 400 metre walking distance, the local authority is able to object to the removal.
“Payphone removals are carried out in strict adherence to Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of local authorities. Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone,” said BT.