Tuesday, June 28, 2005

No Mobile: The Future of Call Boxes

I am one of the rare people left in Britain without a mobile.

The Vodafone press office told me that 'approximately 93% of the population per market penetration have a handset. Of those, a percentage have more than one mobile phone.'

According to WirelessWorld Forum: 'Christmas sales figures have brought the number of mobile phones currently in circulation in the UK to be greater than its population size! A total of 53 Million subscribers (PAYG and PAYM) were registered and active on UK networks O2, Orange, T-Mobile* and Vodafone as of 30th September 2004'

I became curious as to the future of call boxes. Had an informative chat with Les King in BT's Press Office, who told me the following:

There are currently 66,000 BT public pay phones in England, Scotland and Wales. Such has been the impact of the mobile that, he says, 'we have seen the number of calls made them halved and the revenue from them drop by 40%.

A programme to reduce the number of phone boxes began in April 2002 and is due to end by December 2005. Removing a telephone box involves BT in extensive consultations with local authorities, town and parish councils.

In order to make the numbers stack-up, BT are reinventing the traditional phone box in a number of ways:

- Cashless boxes from which youc an only make operator-controlled calls or emergency calls.

- BT already have 12,000 multimedia internet kiosks with full e-mail and texting facilities plus the pay phone. Some of these boxes and others have a mobile base station or a wi-fi connection in the top of the box.

- In S. Wales, they are testing out boxes that provide a video link to the local police.

- There are 20,000 new kiosks that carry advertising outside and inside.

- There are trialing 500 boxes that combine cash machines and pay phones.

- They are also conducting trials in the W. Midlands and later London, of boxes that have pay-phones on the outside and a vending machine inside

See also:

Mobiles Kill of More Phone Boxes

Save our iconic phone boxes plea

BT scraps plans to axe payphones

You can buy an original phone box from English Phone Boxes

Also of interest:

Are Mobile Phones Driving Down Teenage Smoking?

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