Ofcom relaxes public phone obligations

16 Mar 2006

UK incumbent BT is considering decommissioning a further 6,000 of the country’s 67,000 remaining public telephones after regulator Ofcom published new rules governing the provision of basic services under the universal service obligation (USO). The redrafted legislation means that BT is now obliged only to provide one public pay phone booth within a 400 metre area. Previously, the telco had to ensure there was one phone within a 100 metre area and consult with local authorities if it wanted to expand the radius. Use of public phones has dropped dramatically following the widespread take-up of mobile services and BT says it loses about GBP30 million a year from funding public phones, claiming that almost 70% of phone booths are unprofitable, with many being frequently vandalised. The new USO also applies to Kingston Communications.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach)