You might have searched on a recent trip to London for those classic red oh-so-English phone booths, only to find yourself asking: where have all those bright-red boxy booths gone? (Which leads to the second question you might have been asking: what will all those postcard punks on Kings Road stand next to while tourists take pictures of them?) The answer (at least to the first question) is that British Telecom, the company operating the public booths, is catching on to what the locals have known for years — that the booths are mostly for tourists. Though the Brits may lament the loss of the 80-year-old iconic boxes, they hardly ever use them. 84% of the British population has gone mobile (compared to 47.3% here in the US), and the pay phones simply don't pay anymore. BT plans to remove 10,000 by next year, bringing the total down to 65,000 from 140,000 in 1999. Of course some local-use of the public phones occurs and there's a law requiring BT to provide "reasonable public access to public call box services", so rest assured that there'll always be a few kicking around in places like Piccadilly.
Britain's red phone boxes disappearing
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