Thousands of UK red phone boxes to be protected from closure.

Traditional red telephone box

Thousands of UK red phone boxes to be protected from closure. The iconic telephone boxes will be protected from removal under new rules announced by the UK’s telecommunications regulator, Tuesday, November 9.

In the day of smartphones, the iconic red phone boxes seem to be more of an out of date ‘Dr Who’ style tourist attraction. However, regulator Ofcom said, “they can still be a lifeline for people in need”.

Ofcom proposes to prevent 5,000 telephone boxes from being disconnected and removed. These boxes are mainly in areas where mobile phone coverage is poor. They also want to keep phone boxes in areas that are considered high risk for car accidents, or ‘accident hotspots’.  According to the criteria proposed by Ofcom, red phone boxes that have had more than 52 phone calls made in the last year would also be included in the 5,000.

Between May 2019 to May 2029, 150,000 phone calls were made to emergency services from the red phone boxes all over the country, as well as 45,000 calls made to other kinds of helplines including the Samaritans.

“Some of the call boxes we plan to protect are used to make relatively low numbers of calls. But if one of those calls is from a distressed child, an accident victim or someone contemplating suicide, that public phone line can be a lifeline at a time of great need” said Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s director of connectivity.

“We also want to make sure that people without mobile coverage, often in rural areas, can still make calls” she added.

British Telecom, now known as BT Group says that the growth of the mobile phone industry is the reason why nearly half of the red phone boxes have been removed.

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Written by

Natalie Williams


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