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Requiem for the Disappearing Pay Phone

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the endangered-species dept.

News 559

StarEmperor writes "This Washington Post article describes the steady disappearance of pay phones as cell phones become more commonplace. Many pay phones, which used to generate hundreds of dollars per month in revenue, are now used so infrequently that they cost money to operate. I wonder what kind of environmental hazard is posed by junking thousands of pay phones?"

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where can I get one? (2, Interesting)

dknight (202308) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985648)

What if I, say, want to buy these payphones they're throwing out? I'd love to have an ACTUAL payphone in my house or something.

Re:where can I get one? (3, Funny)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985670)


You've never seen those start-your-own-business things with payphones?

Put them anywhere! tons of revenue!

Check it out! [payphoneconnection.com]

Re:where can I get one? (1)

TalonKarrde989 (637177) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985672)

Interesting idea. I guess you could just drive to the junk yard or talk to one of the people selling them.

Re:where can I get one? (5, Interesting)

rickthewizkid (536429) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985684)

They are available online, ebay, etc. The only trouble is, they have been "adjusted" to not require coins. If you were to want to make it a real pay phone, you would need the totalizer circuitry (not something the phone cos want to have in the wild ... look up the term "red box") and a ACTS phone line - convincing the telco to do that for you would be difficult....

Just my 90-cents-for-the-first-three-minutes-worth...
Ric kTheWizKid

"School" payphone case mods (2)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985802)

aren't the best way to win the support of the administration.

It isn't hard to replace the handset with one that has a sereo jack for a pda/ipod red box. I know, I know, I know: it isn't really a red box unless you solder it from scratch, but still a cool idea.

Disclaimer: This is neither a confession nor a suggestion. I am not admitting to any wrongdoing, accompliship in wrongdoing or premeditation of wrongoing.

Re:where can I get one? (3, Interesting)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985813)

Indeed, if you search, there are quite a few pay phones [ebay.com] on ebay. Pretty impressive.

I've had one for years (0, Offtopic)

Zen Programmer (518532) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985689)

It's called a Cheese Box. L33t Phr34k0rz

Re:where can I get one? (3, Funny)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985727)

I'm not sure where you are geographically, but over here in the UK the old red phoneboxes would be far too heavy to install in a house without major reinforcement for the floor. I'm guessing they were solid steel/iron, with about a million coats of paint each over the graphitti/urine ;-)

Re:where can I get one? (2)

npietraniec (519210) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985829)

You evidently didn't read the part about people urinating on them.

What will happen to 2600 mag? (4, Funny)

Lieutenant_Dan (583843) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985650)

Without pay phones pictures the back cover of 2600 will seem sooooo boring.

Re:What will happen to 2600 mag? (5, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985654)

Nothing will happen to it since almost all the pics are payphones from other countries.

Re:What will happen to 2600 mag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985678)

Or maybe it will happen quicker as cell phone use is growing at a faster rate in countries such as China, Nigeria, and Brazil where the cost of land lines is deemed too expensive or current lines cannot accomodate the growth.

Re:What will happen to 2600 mag? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985698)

[tangent] When I was stationed in Germany, the UK 5p was about the same size as the one Mark piece. You could use the 5p coin in the German phone booths.

When I was in the airport in London, I asked this cashier for a Pound worth of 5p's and the guy says, "Your aren't planning on using these on the phones in Germany are you?"

"Uh, no."

Congratulations (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985694)

... for making the first mandatory 2600 magazine reference in this story. You must be proud of yourself. Get a life you wannabe hacker.

Interesting (1)

TalonKarrde989 (637177) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985653)

That's interesting. I myself haven't used a pay phone in....wel...I can't remember the last time

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985700)

You yourself and I myself should use a pay phone itself.

I can remember (2, Funny)

Regul8or (603030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985735)

the last time I used a payphone I was playing quarter tones into it trying to trick the operator into giving me a free phone call. Also stuffing the coin returns. What else are you supposed to do in high school?

Re:I can remember (1)

TalonKarrde989 (637177) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985768)

Hmmm....true enough. Everyone does that sort of a thing at one point or another

Re:Interesting. Unlike your comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985771)

And who gives a shit if you haven't ? Go back wanking your weeny little thing, moron.

pay phones might get more use if (5, Insightful)

benfoldsfan (242486) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985655)

they cost less. $.50 cents for one phone call is ridiculous

Re:pay phones might get more use if (2)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985705)

Amen to that. I recall in korea that the pay phone calls were 10W (I think 1100W=$1, so its like pennies per call), and the phones would "save up" the credit from one person to the next. I don't know if they were subsidized, or even if they're still there (haven't been in 10 years, and EVERYONE carries a cell phone now). But if payphones were like $0.10 for local, and $0.05/min long distance, they might actually get used

Re:pay phones might get more use if (5, Interesting)

neema (170845) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985717)

This should be modded up.

That was such a stupid step to take, unless they were looking for everyone to add just one more thing to the list of the benefits of having a cell phone. Payphones always have had two advantages in my mind:

1: They are wired, hence, no fuzz.
2: Just one shiny thing and you could get a call through.

Now that it's 50 cents, I find myself approaching a payphone and finding that I don't have the right amount of change on me. Who cares that it's unlimited? The three minute limit was just fine by me. I'm not exactly making leisure calls at a pay phone. The trade off is ridiculous and is bound to doom the payphones.

Re:pay phones might get more use if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985729)

"This should be modded up" refers to the parent comment. Not the reply. By the way.

Sell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985656)

Sell them for people in their homes. The Brady Bunch did this one time to teach the kids a valuable lesson. Even though Mike almost lost a contract because of it, once he explained the situation, he got the contract.

Re:Sell them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985751)

Are you serious? That's sick that you would want own somebody in their home. I'd much rather sell the pay phones for money, so that people could have a pay phone in their homes. I never knew the Brady Bunch were such sick people, doing something like just to teach the kids a lesson.

Without public telephones... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985658)

Where will Clark Kent change into his Superman costume?!

Re:Without public telephones... (2, Funny)

dankwa (615511) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985683)

... And HOW will the folks in Matrix get back to their ship when chased by the Agents?

Re:Without public telephones... (1)

Zen Programmer (518532) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985709)

Uh, by using other hard-wired non-pay phones. I can think of at least 3 instances where they didn't use pay phone.

Re:Without public telephones... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985736)

I can think of one instance where you didn't use your sense of humor.

Re:Without public telephones... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985755)

Yes, but can you think of at least one instance where you actually did anything with a member of the opposite sex?

Thought not.

Re:Without public telephones... (1)

blugecko (152079) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985826)

Your friendly neighbourhood Nokia kiosk, of course ;-)

The environmental hazard of removing payphones is: (5, Insightful)

rickthewizkid (536429) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985659)

... all the spilled oil, gas, antifreeze and other automotive gook from the accidents caused by people using their cell phones while driving...

-RickTheWizKid
..."Just hang up and DRIVE!"

Re:The environmental hazard of removing payphones (4, Interesting)

kevcol (3467) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985721)

I only agree if the cell user is not using a headset and using a phone with special hands free dialing features. Otherwise, we might as well ban conversation between 2 or more occupants of a car.

early post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985661)

yay im early.
Remember the episode of the brady bunch where they had to buy a pay phone because the kids were always talking and they couldnt share the phone?

I know where they're going (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985663)

they're all dissapearing in the depths of Kathleen Fent's huge ass

Re:I know where they're going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985677)

Didn't she take her husband's last name? Shouldn't it be Kathleen Taco?

Re:I know where they're going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985723)

Didn't she take her husband's last name? Shouldn't it be Kathleen Taco?

They got married in a Las Vegas chapel and she had to make her way there in a taxi cab. What do YOU think. Her mother was probably like: "Look, if the dipshit has any VA Software money leftover, take him for it but christ, don't go all the way into changing your name when you know you're just going to get divorced."

Payfones out the door... (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985665)

Our school just dumped the last of our payphones recently. I didn't know this, but they were actually costing US money!

With everyone using cell phones now, I guess the call for an occasional pizza wasn't paying for the upkeep of those things.

Leave them in place... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985667)

They are useful for emergencies.

I'd like to buy a payphone too (1)

jodathmorr (593725) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985669)

There like a part of history! I want one in my room. I'd pay a little for one... Anyone else?

Obscure Future Rama Joke (5, Funny)

Znonymous Coward (615009) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985673)

Maybe they could replace them with Suicide Booths :)

Re:Obscure Future Rama Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985765)

Oh, I'm sorry. Did "Obscure Future Rama Joke" mean "Stupid Joke"?

Payphones are too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985675)

As development of cell phones got outsourced to India, wits its cheap and skilled labor force, the prices dropped!

You wonder about the wrong thing... (5, Interesting)

Marton (24416) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985679)

... payphones are great to have in an emergency - and there are tens of millions of people in the US w/o a cellphone.

The real question is: are they going to keep operating those phones that lose them money? Should payphones be thought of as something essential like public transportation, and possibly subsidized by the govt?

Re:You wonder about the wrong thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985739)

There have been many times I've NEEDED a pay phone while in Europe and been damned glad to find one. What will tourists do if there are none around? My cell phone will not work in Europe. Am I supposed to buy a cell phone and sign a one-year contract just so I can call taxis, arrange lodging, and make restaurant reservations during a one-week trip? Perhaps a government subsidy is appropriate.

Re:You wonder about the wrong thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985750)

. payphones are great to have in an emergency - and there are tens of millions of people in the US w/o a cellphone.

But they don't count. Emergency services are there to protect the lives and property of rich people only.

Re:You wonder about the wrong thing... (2, Informative)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985754)

... payphones are great to have in an emergency - and there are tens of millions of people in the US w/o a cellphone.

If you just want the convenience and safety though there are tons of plans for pay-as-you-go. Buy some minutes up front and leave it around for an emergency. If you just need it for 911 then just get someone's old disconnected phone like the battered women's shelters do for people since they can still dial 911. Now, as I think about it, I've not used a payphone since I got a cell phone. Hell, I never have any change for the payphone anyway and it'd be easier to just borrow someone else's phone for a minute if you're in a group and give them a buck or two for the convenience. Payphones carry diseases and god knows what else on them. It'd be like putting a public urinal up to my mouth when you make a phone call. No thanks!

Re:You wonder about the wrong thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985808)

It'd be like putting a public urinal up to my mouth when you make a phone call.

You don't have to put the thing in your mouth you know. As long as you aren't licking it you should be okay. Holding the handset is another story altogether.

Re:You wonder about the wrong thing... (1)

DuctTape (101304) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985816)

Payphones carry diseases and god knows what else on them. It'd be like putting a public urinal up to my mouth when you make a phone call. No thanks!

Not too far from the truth: the article mentions that people (women?) would sometimes urinate on pay phones. And I can rmember a movie or two where the protagonist would always pull out a hankie to handle a pay phone handset with.

I'm waiting for the disappearance of the office phone, which may happen sooner than later, esp. with corporate rightsizing.

Recycling impact? (3, Insightful)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985682)

I wonder what kind of environmental hazard is posed by junking thousands of pay phones?

Ummmm. How about approximately 0? How many pay phones per person? Like 1/100 at best. Now think about all of the diapers and soda bottles and old tires and other crap that people throw out without thinking. There are things worth worrying about and then there is the noise.

As for getting rid of pay phones, I'm fine with it. I mean, when was the last time you saw a working pay phone?

Re:Recycling impact? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985778)

Insightful? Since when?

You make the claim that the environmental hazard is 0 by saying that there are other things that contribute to environmental hazards. How is that answering the question? Just because there are things that are worse doesn't mean you shouldn't take this into consideration too.

Bill: Hey Bob, why did you just spray all those cans of hair spray out into the air?
Bob: Who cares? Think about all the diapers and soda bottles and old tires and other crap that people throw out without thinking. There are things worth worrying about and then there is the noise.
Bill: You sure got me there.

Right. Real insightful.

Re:Recycling impact? (3, Interesting)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985800)

Perhaps a more direct metaphor is in order: You're picking up litter in a burning building.

This reminds me... (5, Funny)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985685)

When I recently opened the Back to the Future DVD trilogy and watched the second movie [imdb.com] , there was one scene where Marty Jr. was using some kind of futuristic-looking pay phone. I laughed to myself and said, "I guess they didn't see the end of that one coming!"

Pretty soon (2)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985687)

A lot of the young kids here on /. will be saying - 'I'm old enough to remember payphones'...

Re:Pretty soon (1)

Stoptional (469673) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985747)

Fom the generation that gave the world "The Brady Bunch" _and_ can quote relevant episodes.

At least in _MY_ day we could quote umm, well, we could quote ahhh, Dylan! Yeah - we could quote Dylan and nobody ever knew what we were talking about either!

Outside line? (2)

Andorion (526481) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985688)

Pay phones still have some use... doesn't anyone watch The Sopranos?

-Berj

Re:Outside line? (5, Funny)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985711)

Pay phones still have some use... doesn't anyone watch The Sopranos?

is it where they change into their gangster clothes?

Re:Outside line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985789)

Exactly. Anonymous telephone calls are a thing of the past. Drug dealers and terrorist will have to look for a new communication device. Oh yeah....

Payphone Disposal (5, Insightful)

newt_sd (443682) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985690)

How come this always gets brought up on slashdot?
How is junking old phones any different then any other waste? Are there uranium pay phones out there? Admit it the u.s. wastes tons pay phone is a tiny tiny part of a very larger picture

Environment (5, Insightful)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985691)

>I wonder what kind of environmental hazard is posed by junking thousands of pay phones

Probably not worse than the millions of home phones that break down or are replaced by newer models. And DEFINITELY not worse than the millions of cell phones - and proprietary batteries - that are starting to be thrown out (what was the statistic I read? Kids in Japan who keep up with "fashion" replace their cell phone every 3 months, and in North America every 18 months? I know, I know, no link, no proof, etc... whatever.)

Too bad.. (3, Interesting)

FuzzyMan45 (451645) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985695)

the payphone out in the Middle of Nowhere already disappeared. Here [wired.com] is a link to the going-away of it and why. Basically, the National Park Service and the Mojave National Preserve thought that there would be too much environmental impact if the booth remained too much longer.

--Fuzz

Environmental Hazard (0, Redundant)

Mr M (120740) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985696)

"I wonder what kind of environmental hazard is posed by junking thousands of pay phones?"

Probably a lot less than the hazard of millions of obsolete cellular phones and cellular phone batteries dumped each year.

Re:Environmental Hazard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985806)

Ohhhhhh. Too bad. You made this shitty argument one minute too late. Look a few posts up.

I can see DC Comics incorporating this ... (5, Funny)

dolphinuser (211295) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985697)


[Superman showing Lois around the Fortress of Solitude ...]

Superman: "Lois, we're finally alone"
Lois: "Oh, Superman, I've dreamed of this day for so long"
Superman: "Like they say in AOL, 'Me Too' "
Lois: "This is so perfect...wait...what's that smell?!?"
Superman: "Oops, I'm sorry, Lois, since they took out all the payphones, I have to use dumpsters to change clothes..."

John

Re:I can see DC Comics incorporating this ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985784)

that was funny shit - wish i had mod points today ...

Re:I can see DC Comics incorporating this ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985792)

Can you really see DC Comics incorporating this? REALLY? Because I can't. You know. Since it's fucking dumb and lame.

British Telecom thinks kiosks are the answer (5, Interesting)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985701)

A similar story to this ran through the British press just over a year ago. The national telecoms provider (British Telecom - BT, for short) was feeling the pinch of cellphone use, and its payphones were bringing in less and less coin.

Their answer was to fight back with 'improved' payphones, which were basically mini Internet kiosks. Many payphones in British cities are now these kiosks. You can still make regular calls, but you can also access numerous services like HotMail, etc.

The thing is, I don't know if it's the way to go. I've never seen anyone actually use the Internet facilities on these, and I certainly haven't.

Don't you have an alternative problem in the US though? That is, your cellphone coverage is absolutely awful, and payphones are still needed in most rural areas. It sounds like a good reason to keep them, but.. just don't go over to costly kiosks. They're a waste of time.

Environmental hazzard? (1)

GoSpeedRacerGo (587091) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985706)

"I wonder what kind of environmental hazard is posed by junking thousands of pay phones?"

A lot less than all the cellphone radiation we are now subjected to, even if you personally wish to avoid it for your own psychotic reasons. Someday we will hear a lot about second hand cellphone syndrome. :-)

'Recycle' them (3, Funny)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985713)

Just how common are pay phones, anyway? At least around here in the US Northeast Corridor, there happen to be at least a couple every few blocks, usually clustering near freeway interchanges (because there's always a pay phone at each gas station). Given their ubiquity, I'd guess that telcos could extract some more life out of the old beat-up pay phones by repurposing them as wireless access points or some kind or another, or lease the space for someone else to do it. Just as long as Verizon doesn't put out a new ad asking 'Can you ping me now?'...

Where will they go? (4, Funny)

Yorrike (322502) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985715)

Without the streets being lined with pay phones, where will the heavily intoxicated sociopaths vomit and urinate?

The main problem with public services such as payphones is other people use them, and I'm not one who likes getting near that kind of "interface". One of the reasons electronic (ie filthy-cashless) POS transactions get the thumbs up from me.

The problem with Payphones is more than just their stupidly high price, it's hygiene too.

Re:Where will they go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985811)

where will the heavily intoxicated sociopaths vomit and urinate

stairwells

Obscene Phone Calls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985719)

What about making anonymous phone calls? How can one do those once pay phones are gone?

As in Mexico, sometime ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985724)

Public phone use waw so cheap, and maintenance so high for the phone company that for a time they were actually free until smart-cards arrived.

Practical use for the remaining telephone lines? (1)

oakestv (97250) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985730)

Is there a use for all that wiring that will be left behind by removing lots of payphones? I know eventually it just becomes a phone co. trunk line... Is there any value to these access lines to the trunk? How about pay-per-use DSL?

Am I just dreaming?

LAMEST post of 2002 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985732)

big deal... are slashdot running out of questions?

Re:LAMEST post of 2002 (1)

n0nsensical (633430) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985801)

are slashdot running out of questions?

You must be new here.

Less Than Junking All Those Cell Phones (1)

Tremblay99 (534187) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985734)

I wonder what kind of environmental hazard is posed by junking thousands of pay phones?

I'd bet that all those cell phones people junk every year or two are far, far worse for the environment.

Makes a Swell Christmas Gift (1)

mistermund (605799) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985741)

For the phone phreaker on your list this holiday season.

Just don't make em like they used to.. (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985744)

I guess that might have something to do with the sharp decline in Superhero's.. I meant if we take away their natural habitat.....

I wouldn't be caught dead using a payphone (2)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985745)

I hope she remembers that right after she is mugged, brutally beaten and raped in an alley. I'm guessing she'll be glad to see one then. Oops! Where did they all go?

I'm thinking that payphone operators are making it harder to get a call thru, and subsequently lose your 50 cents. I came across a phone that took 1.50 from me on busy signals! No other phone was to be found (this was a half mile from the U of MN)

I was pissed. If I had been driving my big shitty van, I would've GTA'd the fucker in a heartbeat. Enjoy my illgotten buck fifty, phone bastards.

Turn them into WiFi access points (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985746)

Bell Canada has announced that they are converting some of their thousands of pay phones into 802.11 access points to extend their new WiFi service offering. WiFi-only companies like FatPort [fatport.com] would be wise to follow suit. PayPhones are in the best possible locations for WiFi -- think AirPorts, hotel lobbies, train stations...

Re:Turn them into WiFi access points (1)

monkeyboy87 (619098) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985828)

This is just a brilliant idea. My ipaq would be so much happier. I guess the problem now is getting Bell to fund the physical plant after they blew all thier capital on "new media" and VOD efforts... heck even using these things to improve cell coverage would be a boon

Environmental hazard? (2, Insightful)

Milinar (176767) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985749)

No more of a threat than everyone having to buy a new cell phone every freakin' year.

-Milinar

This is real simple actually ... (2)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985752)

... People are using the payphones less, therefore demand has gone down so price has gone up. My cell's battery went dead the other day and I needed to make a local call, so I headed to the payphone, $0.55 to make a Local 2 minute call!!

Think about it, that's 25 cents a minute, most cellular phone contractual plans are LOWER than this price.

Here's the irony of the story, I didn't have any change either, so I stopped a gentleman to ask him for some change to use the phone, he said he was on his lunch break and had no problem with me using his phone.

I think the saying "everyone has a cell phone" is wrong, but not so untrue, like the computer most people have at least one in their family, if not three or four.

Moral of the story, I got a car charger now and don't try to see if the lithium ion battery can hold a charge for more than 4 days. Totally off topic but motorolla's new phones with a Lithium Ion battery are hella nice and last a rather long time (just not longer than 4 days).

In closing of a long post, it's the price of the payphone that has made them less appealing, and what gets me even more is most of these phone companies who supply payphones ALSO have a division that supply celluar phones. So they really aren't "losing" money as a whole, just certain departments.

I say more emergency solar based Cell Phones Stations on Highways, Interstates, and Rest Stops because technically Cell Phones have to be free when dialing emergency numbers, and being solar you can put them anywhere.

I'm sure "phreakers" and 2600 will be upset though...

Re-use? (2)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985753)

Why not just turn them into toilets, and handy pinboards for ladies of the night to ply their wares? Oh wait...

Well... (1)

tuxlove (316502) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985756)

If everyone's using cell phones and nobody is using pay phones any more, why not just put cell phones at every street corner instead?

:) :)

Don't trash; upgrade! (4, Interesting)

adamp3 (555665) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985759)

They should convert them into WiFi hotspots [slashdot.org] .

I wonder (4, Insightful)

Alethes (533985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985761)

How will we make anonymous calls without a payphone?

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985817)

By stealing someones cellphone and then ditching it in the river after making your call. Don't you watch TV?

Don't Junk, Re-Purpose (2, Interesting)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985766)

Rather than throw out all those pay phones, I think it would be much more interesting to see them reused. Perhaps as 802.11 access points or something. Just replace the phone with a digital pay box with an antenna on top. Simply swipe your credit card, hook into the network, and roam around with 20 or 30 minutes of wireless access.

Oh jeez.. (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985767)

I started reading from the bottom, and when you said junking pay phones I thought you meant people were making spam calls to payphones (hoping people would pick up I guess). Gosh, I hope I didn't give anyone any ideas with that. I need sleep...

limited coverage (2, Interesting)

tr0tsky (207672) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985777)

There are still vast regions of the country that have limited cell phone coverage, especially for newer networks that provide high(er)-speed wireless data services.

I recently switched cell phone providers from Verizon to T-Mobile so I could utilize their GPRS/GSM-based wireless internet service on my laptop (~115Kbps) using my new bluetooth-enabled phone. While CDMA coverage in the U.S. is rather extensive, the GPRS networks that AT&T and T-Mobile have deployed are still very much confined to highly-populated regions of the country.

There I was in Westchester County, NY (about 50 miles N of Manhattan) trying to locate a client's office and imagine my frustration when my brand new GPRS-based phone was out of range. I had to stop at a supermarket and find enough change to call from a payphone - it saved my day.

This is what _really_ drives mass adoption... (5, Insightful)

foonf (447461) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985779)

I don't really use the telephone a whole lot. I've never seen a need for a mobile phone, and part of the argument against one went kind of like this: Well, if I'm stuck somewhere and I really need to get in touch with someone, I can always use a pay phone. And if its not important enough to spend 35 cents I really don't need to make the call anyway. I guess not eh? At some point in the future I might have to spend $(minimum cell phone cost) every month just to get the same service I would have formerly gotten from the once-ubiquitous (and free if I don't actually have to use them) public pay phones.

The same thing happened to rail transit in most American cities about 40-50 years ago as road systems improved and more people bought automobiles.

So what about emergency calls and the poor? (3, Insightful)

John Murray (149) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985785)

This is bad news for all the people who can't justify paying $30+/month for a cell phone. With ubiquitous pay phones in case of emergency, knowing you could find a near by pay phone. From this article, it could soon become very hard to find a pay-phone when one is needed. This will be big problem for the lower middle class, who can't justify paying for a cell phone, but live areas, where cell toting yuppies, have caused most of the pat phones to be removed. The poor may be less effected, as, according to the article, phones in poorer areas are still profitable.

Re:So what about emergency calls and the poor? (2)

geek (5680) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985818)

Considering that 911 is a toll free call I doubt any phone companies will become altruists and put up phones that say "Homeless only" on them.

They can still shout for help and run to nearby businesses. I doubt the impact will be large but who knows.

More important than environmental hazard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4985805)

What happens when people have an accident and want to call emergency services ? Most people have a cellphone but shouldn't there be some sort of police phone boxes for people who don't have one ? Will emergency services be restricted to white upper class families ?
Well that may be, people voted for a stupid redneck called W.Bush, so that's what they deserve anyway. Isn't it ?

Only Terrorists Use Public Telephones (5, Funny)

jpt.d (444929) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985807)


How can the government ensure your security if you use public pay phones?

Use your cell phone, or get one! That way your phone records are just a computer away from the people protecting your safety.

Do not assist the Terrorists!

Pay phones were never profitable (3, Insightful)

Gus (2568) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985821)

Most pay phones lost money like a sieve. The decline of the enclosed phone booth came about due to the high incidence of they being used as toilets; the local Bell technicians wanted nothing to do with repairing a smashed phone in a small enclosure reeking of urine.

In general, pay phones were mandated by public safety regulations, not profit motive. Problems ranging from smashed handsets to stolen phone books to smashed window glass plagued public phones constantly.

If pay phones were profitable, why did the Baby Bells allow anyone to start running them? It would have been a very strange business decision given their history of profiteering in the post Ma Bell era.

Pay phones are nowhere near as annoying (5, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985822)

Reasons why payphones are better than cellphones:

  • Payphones don't ring in movie theaters
  • People don't drift into your lane and cut you off because they're yakking into a payphone
  • Brain cancer isn't even a remote possibility with payphones
  • Sometimes you find a dime in a payphone's change slot
  • With a payphone you can call people collect for free
  • Payphones aren't obsoleted in a year just because they can't take stupid pictures or haven't shrunk in size by a factor of 3
  • Payphones are the safest option if you're up to no good
  • Receiving calls at payphones is convenient (or used to be before the drug dealers screwed it up for everybody)
  • No long term commitment or credit check with a payphone
  • Payphones don't ever have to come with you on vacations
  • When the payphone doesn't work, you go to another payphone instead of navigating an automated touch tone maze
  • No static with a payphone


I could go on and on... it will be sad to see the payphone go. I swear I could strangle the jackass who actually took a call in the theater during the Two Towers last week.

Wonderful. (2, Interesting)

DwarfGoanna (447841) | more than 11 years ago | (#4985830)

I can't stand cell phones, I don't need or want one, and I don't plan on getting one now. Maybe I have become truly die hard cynical, but this smacks of another case where I am being herded into buying something I don't need, because the public (read free or optional) alternative was taken away from me. I am so moving to Canada or Australia.
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