Pay phone


In the course of preparing for a talk, I was entering household expenditure data on communication-related activities into a spreadsheet that contained data from the 2009-10 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES). In the three years since 2009-10 many things have happened to expenditure patterns, but one thing jumped out. In 2009-10 a household reported an average expenditure of LKR 382.72 outside the home per month. In 2012-13, this had declined to LKR 17.
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.