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Many are never used

BT to scrap half of phone boxes

BT is to remove half of Britain’s remaining 40,000 telephone boxes, many of which are never used.

It is also replacing phone booths with high-tech InLinkUK kiosks that come with ultra-fast 1Gbps Wi-Fi hotspots, a touchscreen offering information and directions, free UK landline and mobile phone calls, and two USB smartphone charging ports.

More than 750 InLinkUK kiosks are being installed in London and other cities across the UK.

The number of phone boxes s has fallen from 92,000 in 1992 just before the explosion in mobile phone usage.

They still handle 33,000 calls a day, but a third of are never used to make a call. BT said many had become a burden and were expensive to repair and maintain. Usage has declined by more than 90% in the last decade. More than half lose money and the number of calls is declining by more than 20% per year.

Of the 40,000 booths still working, 7,000 are the traditional red phone boxes designed in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V.

It costs BT £6 million to maintain the boxes, though many have become litter-strewn eyesores, covered in graffiti and posters.

With 93% of all people in the UK now owning a mobile phone they are regarded as an antiquated piece of street furniture and new uses have been found for them as mini-libraries, art galleries, cafes, or to house defibrillation machines.

BT must inform the public and consult with the local authorities before removing a box. The authority then has 90 days to object.

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