For Just The Cost Of A (Starbucks) Coffee A Day, You Could Save A Pay Phone Booth...

from the save-the-booths! dept

It's been nearly a decade or so since the rise of mobile phones began to impact the payphone industry -- and we've seen all sorts of creative attempts to save payphone booths in one form or another -- from turning them into music download stations or WiFi hotspots. Then, there's the idea of simply changing phone booths into places for mobile phone callers to go, so they're not quite so annoying, talking on the phone where everyone can hear them. Over in the UK, things are even worse, as the distinctive red iconic telephone booths has a much stronger cultural connection that has many upset at the demise of the phone booth.

So, what BT has come up with a different sort of strategy for rescuing the red phone booths: getting local gov'ts to pay out of sympathy. Yes, BT is telling local councils that they can "adopt" a red phone booth and keep it alive for just £500 per year (about $1,000). I'm almost surprised they didn't open up the offering to individuals as well. I'm sure there are some folks who would pay to keep the phone booths alive.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    wasnt me!, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 12:07am

    since ppl don't need them any more why bother keeping them?
    just send a couple to a museum and move on.

     

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  2.  
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    Mike F.M, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 12:22am

    Vandalism?

    My guess is that £500 doesn't include the inevitable vandalism that will take place on that phonebox.

    The only red phone boxes I see around don't accept coins, for fear of them being broken into, which practically make them useless.

    The only places this will happen is in little villages, where the residents will end up paying for them anyway.

     

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  3.  
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    Brian, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 12:47am

    The Staple of Our Society

    Over here in LA, public phones are just used for crack deals. As you may or may not know, that's a multi-million (billion?) dollar industry which in part pays for our police departments.

    I bet you geniuses never thought of that. How will drug dealers make money? How will our public servants get paid? Anarchy, I tell you!

     

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  4.  
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    Peter Thomas, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 12:50am

    Re: The Staple of Our Society

    Drug dealers make money through phone booths?

    I've personally moved onto using a cell phone. Why are drug dealers so behind the times?

     

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  5.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 1:02am

    Red Phone Booths?

    Outside London you'd be lucky to see one - they were all replaced with souless aluminium ones over a decade ago (OK a few villages got to keep them as Mike F.M states but very few)

    The new ones had the advantage of being cheaper, having the latest logo and being easier to vandalise (way less sturdy)

    If a council wants a red one I would suggest they go to the nearest scrap yard, buy one and shove their own phone in it - bound to be cheaper and they get whatever revenue there is

    As for individuals owning them I know of a few pubs and people who have done exactly this - no need to involve BT and their 'service'

     

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  6.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 1:56am

    Re:

    So, you want to further disenfranchise those of us who choose not to be encumbered by a mobile 'phone?

    Way out in the Scottish countryside it's far cheaper to put a 'phone booth in the middle of a moor than a mobile 'phone mast - it just needs a power hook-up and a single copper wire. In unpopulated areas it makes more sense than maintaining a base station that will go largely unused.

     

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  7.  
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    Anarchy_Creator, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 2:35am

    Re:

    And just where do you expect Clark Kent to change into Superman, and help out during a disaster a McDonald's restroom?
    I myself have two Cell Phones (one for work & one for personal calls), but there are still many people believe it or not that do not have a Cell Phone.
    Not just people in Ghettos, or illegal immigrants either.
    Many children/tweens/teens do not have Cell Phones.
    Tourists that have Cell Phones that are regionally locked to their homeland.
    Anyhow I for one do not think that it's time yet to get rid of these things.
    Until mobile phones are so dirt cheap, and either contractless, or fairly contracted, and their coverage is at least 90% of the worlds populated areas we will always need payphones.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 2:37am

    Re: Re:

    Even cheeper to put the mobile phone mast at one side and cover the whole thing from there.

     

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  9.  
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    edwarddupre.com, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 3:17am

    Great idea

    Since most everyone has cellular phones why not use the idea of sponsoring them and then all of the bums that don't work can use them.

     

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  10.  
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    SteveD, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 4:09am

    Re: Red Phone Booths?

    Enrico is right; the red phone box in the village where I grew up was replaced years ago, long before anyone had a mobile phone.

    All the little glass panes make it very easy to vandalise and very expensive to maintain. Putting the blame on mobiles is a little cheap; society moved on years back.

     

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  11.  
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    Jim, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 5:00am

    Re: Re:

    If it is so valuable out there then it should be making plenty of money. You have a different situation than what is being discussed here.

     

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  12.  
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    Jim, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 5:04am

    Re: Re: The Staple of Our Society

    You have moved onto using a cell phone for your drug deals? I recommend that you find a way to make your calls untraceable before you find your money going to your local public servants. Perhaps you should consider using pay phones?

     

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  13.  
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    US-Brit, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 5:13am

    Phone Booths

    Im English but live in the US and there are restaurants here that have the old Red Phone booth in them for those people wanting to make a call while they are there. The only problem is that the loudest most annoying people dont bother. They just shout into their phone. I would like to see more of that though. Even in businesses. Its just a quiet place to take a call and not annoy everyone around you.

     

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  14.  
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    Steven, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 5:54am

    Why should the local government care?

    It really bugs me when this kind of thing is assumed to be a role government should play. I can't think of any reason any government should hand over any cash for something like this. They have enough real problems to deal with rather than waste money on crap like this. I just hope none of the local councils fall for it.

     

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  15.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re: Re: The Staple of Our Society

    Drug dealers use burner cell phones. Buy cheap and toss after awhile.

    I just wonder why the cops haven't bugged the phone booths in question. Listening devices in the hardened part of the phone, a camera where they can hide it and it already has a wire to return data to the cops. Detect a person in the booth not on the phone and start monitoring.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 6:18am

    I dont understand . . .

    Why dont the protectioners of pay phones, simply follow the model of the RIAA and declare cell phones illegal and thier use immoral?

     

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  17.  
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    hegemon13, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The Staple of Our Society

    Um, that's called an illegal wiretap, and I would hope that any cop who tried it would get to spend time behind bars themselves.

     

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  18.  
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    hegemon13, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 6:24am

    Why maintain the phone?

    If it is the aesthetic appeal of the phone booths that people want, why maintain the phone? Why not just declare them a historic display and maintain only the booth itself? It would be MUCH cheaper for them, and it would not be outside the realm of what is already done. No different, really, than maintaining pieces of urban "artwork" (do they have those all over European cities the way they do here in the US?).

     

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  19.  
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    Sierra Night Tide, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 6:26am

    recycle not dump -- too much trash

    "changing phone booths into places for mobile phone callers to go, so they're not quite so annoying" I like this idea and the others. The last thing city and country dumps need is anther freight load of metal, glass and plastic crap the world will never use again.

     

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  20.  
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    Haywood, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 6:31am

    I have no cell phone

    I don't want one, I can't imagine a situation that would change that. I hear from the folks I care about sufficiently over a land line, or in person. I don't use phone booths much either, but it was reassuring to know they were there. I feel very strongly that Cell phones are taking away the last bit of civility left in society, and would be a hypocrite to use one.

     

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  21.  
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    US-Brit, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 6:48am

    Not to mention what i would give to have them througout airports. After all how many hours have you all spent with a finger in one ear and a cell phone to the other waiting for your plane and trying to do business. Wouldnt you like a quiet place to perform business.

     

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  22.  
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    nasch, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Staple of Our Society

    It's only illegal if they don't have a warrant.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 7:37am

    Bring back the British "Police Box"!

    Then phones would be available for emergencies for the poor and for pretentious nerks who think they are making a statement of somekind by not having cell phones and plus the TARDIS wouldn't look so conspicuous when it comes to earth.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Re: The Staple of Our Society

    pre-paid cell phones paid for with cash can be had for

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    MCT, Sep 3rd, 2008 @ 9:34am

    Dr. Who?

    I mean really, how would it work if Dr. Who just pulled out his trusty flip phone and dematerialized to another destination? Talk about disenchantment!!!

     

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  26.  
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    Eclecticdave (profile), Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:18pm

    Small Villages

    I get the feeling this is purely for the benefit of small villages than anywhere else.

    It sounds as if BT might be planning on phasing out phone boxes entirely, but want to offer the option to small villages to keep their red ones if they feel it contributes to the village charm or community or whatever.

    IIRC some villages successfully campaigned to keep their red boxes when BT started replacing them with the modern type. This could just be BT recognising the same villages might be likely to take action again if their boxes were threatened.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Gone are phone booths long time ago, Mar 29th, 2009 @ 2:34am

    gone already ...

    Phone Booths disappeared here in Finland already so long time ago that i cannot even remember seeing one!

    I think at Helsinki railway station i saw a couple (probably broken) a few years ago. Helsinki railway station is one of the busiest places in Finland, so that and airports would be the last places i'd expect to see them.

     

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