Technology

Some of these iconic outfits will be kept in the UK.

Smartphones and mobile networks may be nearly ubiquitous, but the UK government wants to protect its heritage from red public phone booths.

Ofcom, the UK communications regulatory authority, has announced its intention to protect phone booths in areas with poor mobile reception and high accident rates – that is, when people need to contact emergency services.

Public pay phones in the UK are not exactly popular for communications (or in many cases very nice), but they are still needed, according to Ofcom.

In areas where mobile operators are insufficient

The move to protect public phone booths comes as the UK and incumbent carrier BT break up old copper and replace it with fiber to provide Internet or VoIP telephony. The UK’s traditional telephone network is scheduled to end in December 2025, which means that public telephones will need to be updated.

Ofcom said in a statement that it proposed to allow BT to remove public phone booths that are no longer needed, but to protect those “that people still depend on.” Ofcom is also proposing some changes to simplify the universal service obligation rules that require BT to support public pay phones, among other things.

The proposal also recognizes that UK citizens no longer use public telephones much, but infrastructure remains vital in areas with poor mobile reception. “A public phone booth may be the only option for making calls to friends and family, to help lines and, most importantly, to emergency services. So we want to make sure the necessary cubicles are protected from disposal, ”says Ofcom.

Ofcom wants to provide “clearer and stricter rules” to BT for its public phone booth decommissioning project. In particular, the area where the cabin is located must not be covered by the four UK mobile networks or be in an area prone to accidents.

About 5,000 cabins saved

Ofcom estimates that around 5,000 of the UK’s 21,000 phone booths will be salvaged thanks to new rules that will prevent BT from removing the booths without first consulting local communities. It will also require operators to install batteries in some public phone booths to avoid blackouts in the event of a power outage.

“We also want to make sure that people without cell phone coverage, often in rural areas, can still make calls. At the same time, we plan to support the deployment of new phone booths with free Wi-Fi and free charging, ”said Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s director of connectivity.

Ofcom estimates that there were 150,000 calls to emergency services from phone booths in the year ending May 2020. However, calls from public phone booths fell by 800 million minutes in 2002 to 7 million in 2020.

Ofcom has also proposed giving BT more options in the services they can provide in their phone booths, such as free Wi-Fi and mobile phone charging, as is the case in “UK street hubs”.

Source: .com

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