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.

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Comments on “For Just The Cost Of A (Starbucks) Coffee A Day, You Could Save A Pay Phone Booth…”

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Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anarchy_Creator (user link) says:

Re: 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.

Mike F.M (user link) says:


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.

Brian says:

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!

John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

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.

Enrico Suarve says:

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’

US-Brit says:

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.

Steven says:

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.

hegemon13 says:

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?).

Haywood says:

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.

Eclecticdave (profile) says:

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.

Gone are phone booths long time ago (user link) says:

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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