BT's Removing Half of the UK's Remaining Phone Boxes

By Tom Pritchard on at

Phone boxes are pretty archaic in the days of mobile phones, and you can tell by looking at them. While there have been plans to retrofit phone boxes into something more useful, BT has just announced plans to remove half of the UK's remaining phone boxes.

According to BT this is to focus on the phone boxes that people actually use, so presumably the ones being axed are used rarely or not at all. BBC News claims that there are still 40,000 phone boxes dotted around the UK. BT says that phone boxes still make 33,000 calls a day, but a third of the remaining boxes never actually make any calls, which means they're only really there to function as advertising space or a semi-public toilet for drunk people.

Regardless of whether phone boxes make money, or offer reliable calls, BT is still responsible for repair and upkeep costs. All of that amounts to around £6 million a year, according to Engadget, so it makes sense that BT would want to cut down on the losses.

A spokesperson told the BBC:

"BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, but with usage declining by over 90% in the last decade, we continue to review and remove payphones which are no longer used."

Like a lot of things BT does, the removal of old phone boxes isn't going to be quick. Instead the telecoms company plans to remove the 20,000 boxes over the next five years. It's currently not clear if they'll be removed outright, or if there are plans to repurpose them into something useful, but given BT just launched dedicated Wi-Fi kiosks there isn't really any need to keep phone boxes around. Not all of them anyway. [BBC News via Engadget]


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