O2 Czech Republic pulls plug on public phone booths

16 Oct 2019

Czechia’s largest telecoms group O2 Czech Republic has announced that it will remove virtually all public payphones by the end of 2019, leaving only a handful to serve small village communities under the terms of its universal service obligation.

At the start of the millennium Czechia was home to more than 30,000 public phone boxes, but the ubiquity of mobile phones caused this figure to dwindle to just 3,900 in operation today. ‘In recent years, 4G mobile phone network availability has significantly increased. It is one of the best in Europe and currently covers 96.9% of the country’s territory. Nowadays, most people use mobile phones or a fixed line and telephone booths are losing their purpose,’ O2 spokeswoman Lucie Jugnmannova told the Czech News Agency, adding some phone booths are used less than once a month. Going forward, some 1,150 payphones will remain in operation in municipalities with up to 200 inhabitants, she added. The locations of these are designated by the Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) and the losses for their operation are compensated by the state.