The Irish Examiner reports that the country’s industry regulator ComReg is considering introducing a new policy that could result in Eircom being allowed to decommission over one-third of the more than 1,300 public payphones it currently has in service. The watchdog is poised to re-designate Eircom – the only company operating payphones in the Republic – as the country’s universal service provider for another four-year period from 1 July 2014. However, it is considering easing regulations on service provision to allow the telco to decommission phones, without public consultation, where it determines that usage has fallen so low it can be concluded they are no longer needed. Under the new rules which allow the PTO to switch off phones where daily usage has fallen to an average of less than a minute, the paper notes that Eircom could look to shut down almost 500 public payphones (or 37% of the total). There were once more than 8,500 public phone booths in operation, but this had dropped to 4,690 by 2003 and reached 1,325 in 712 locations at end-2013.