payphones Archives — LIRNEasia

In June I posted some pictures from Shanghai of payphones that had WiFi signs on them. What the Chinese have already done, the City of New York is debating. The most controversial idea seems to be converting the payphone locations (which already have power) into electrical vehicle charging stations. Sri Lanka has a minuscule number of payphones so this is not a big issue, but for Asian countries that are beginning to think about what to do, the first step should be to look at evidence on the question of whether payphones are obsolete. For the second step, with regard to certain cities in certain countries, the NYC process might have some ideas: Given the amount of red tape involved, it could be years before the phone kiosks are repurposed, if the idea is approved.
The World Bank has committed USD 2.6 million (or USD 10 per intended beneficiary) in grant funds for rural public access telephones in Cambodia according to a recent news release. The amount is not too steep and the local official in charge is Deputy Minister Chin Bunsean, an alumnus of LIRNEasia’s regulatory training course in 2005 (Mr Chin is dead center of the picture on the course page), which among other things discussed the lessons that should be drawn from the Nepal output-based aid project, so I guess we can surmise that the lessons have indeed been learned. But it still makes us wonder why the World Bank is funding rural payphones, when the evidence is abundant that cheap mobiles are what will connect poor people, not payphones? Poor families in four of the poorer provinces of northern and northwestern Cambodia – Banteay Meanchey, Otdar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, and Pursat – will benefit from a US$2.