HANGING UP: Spain’s ‘obsolete’ public payphones fast disappearing

END OF THE LINE: 88 per cent of Spaniards have never used a payphone in their life END OF THE LINE: 88 per cent of Spaniards have never used a payphone in their life Shutterstock

THE Spanish government has proposed removing the country’s public payphones from universal service obligations on the grounds that they have become obsolete in the era of mobile telephones.

It is estimated that 12,000 of the 18,000 booths public payphones aren’t profitable and that 88 per cent of Spaniards have never used a payphone in their life.

Earlier this year the government announced that Telefonica will continue to operate the payphone network until December 31, 2018 after no operators applied in the tender for the universal service contracts.

The draft amendment to Royal Decree 424/2005  is subject to a public hearing until 24 May, after which the government is expected to remove the booths from universal service obligations, accelerating their disappearance.

Under its current obligations, Telefonica is obliged to ensure that a sufficient number of payphones are available in public areas.

The levels are at least one public payphone per 3,000 inhabitants in each town of 1,000 or more and one cabin in all municipalities of less than 1,000 inhabitants.

Karl Smallman

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