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Should public payphones be hung up, permanently?

If a payphone is not being used then Eir is allowed to take it away.

Pierce Brosnan in an old style phone box in Roundwood, Co. Wicklow. (1996)
Pierce Brosnan in an old style phone box in Roundwood, Co. Wicklow. (1996)
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE FUTURE OF public payphones is to come under the spotlight as they continue to be used less and less.

Eir is required under its public service obligation to maintain a reasonable public payphone system, but if a payphone is used for less than a minute a day over six months then Eir can remove it.

ComReg is now conducting a consultation period to ask the public if it thinks this system is fair.

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Eir’s corporate affairs director Paul Bradley refused to give a company position on the need for payphones. He did, however, point out that their usage has dramatically fallen.

“I’ve seen where cases where people are stepping outside a payphone when it’s raining to make a call on a mobile phone,” Bradley said.

The Public Service Obligation is there to provide for a need… A long time ago when not everyone had a phone, then payphone served an intricate part of Irish life, nowadays methods of communication are fundamentally changing.

Bradley says that people are “voting for the feet and not using them” .

Nobody is being caught short without a method of communication. If you went to meet someone and they weren’t there you’d use your mobile phone. And we know that mobile phone usage in terms of the number of handsets people have is near ubiquitous.

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Eir is also allowed to remove a public payphone if there is evidence that it is being used for anti-social behaviour or if there is a request from a local authority for it to be taken away.

Bradley says there has been a number of incidents like this.

Respondents to ComReg’s public consultation have until 24 June to forward their submission

Read: Eir reveals locations of 100,000 homes and businesses where new broadband to be rolled out > 

Read: Here’s the story with that banging tune from the Eir ad >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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