LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Death of the public pay phone?

Those who are old enough might remember the days where you lived in a house that had no telephone. When you want to take a call you went to post office or a public place where telephone facilities are available. 

In India, Sam Pitroda’s name went into history for the ubiquitous, yellow-signed Public Call Offices (PCO) that enabled cheap and easy domestic and international public telephones all over the country in 1980s.

Nearly two decades later the rapid expansion of mobile phones has finally brought that era to an end. Not surprisingly, public pay phones are rarely used these days. This photograph taken in Chennai few months back tells it all.

In UK, Telecoms giant BT has proposed removing 194 payphones from its network in the Highland region.  It says an increase in the use of mobiles has led to calls made from phone boxes and payphone points falling by half in the last three years.

2 Comments to Death of the public pay phone?

  1. May 20, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    hard to say.As far as I know,main operators like Reliance,BNSL have their big plans to expand their PCO network.

    No doubt the number of Mobile users is increasing in a rapid way.But still hundreds and thousands poor people who can’t afford private mobile service.Those poor people also will not contribute to ARPU increase even if Mobile service operators draw them into their games.PCOs is suitable for such a group of people.

    I’m doing Payphone business,and I have investigated India market for a long time,keeping in touch with operators.I think there are two markets in India,one demanding the most advanced technology while the other one demanding only the cheapest products providing basic features.

  2. Nirosh Perera's Gravatar Nirosh Perera
    May 20, 2008 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Payphone market was partly dead due to the bad management of Payphone companies who came to Sri Lanka. Recently, I got to know about a new Payphone company name SimPhony and they use a SIM card with a number to access the network. They have SIM cards from Tigo and HUTCH and looks very impressive. I have seen lot of school children are using it. SimPhony phone looks very handy too.


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