Pay phones' future uncertain in digital world

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by sobore, Feb 13, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

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    They sit, silent and unnoticed, amid crowds of people rushing by. You may never notice them, but payphones still lurk in public areas. And every once in a while, they get called into action.

    Ron Szulwach, who flew from Texas to Atlanta last month, discovered upon landing that his cellphone service didn't work at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. "So out of desperation, I'm using a payphone," he said after dropping the receiver back on its hook. The last time he remembers using a pay phone: 2005, in war-torn Iraq, while with the Texas National Guard.

    Many are wondering what role pay phones should play in today's wireless world. A decade or two after cellphone technology has passed them by, the number of pay phones is dwindling. In 1998, there were more than 2 million pay phones in the United States. That has plummeted to 243,000 pay phones nationally, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

    Industry estimates paint a slightly brighter picture of about 400,000 pay phones nationally, though those figures also represent a drastic decline. Some still see a need to keep the anachronistic connection available for the elderly, the poor and others without a working phone. Even people with cellphones may someday find themselves in a need of a pay phone, say industry leaders, who point to disasters like Superstorm Sandy last year when cellphones went dead and people in the Northeast found themselves lining up at pay phones to keep in touch with friends and family.

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  2. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    What is a payphone?:D
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  3. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I thought about this issue on a recent trip to Europe. Pay phones seem much more common in Europe now than in the USA where I live. Even there though the cell phone age seems to be pushing them to little use. I also tried to explain how distracted driving due to texting is a problem in the USA to a guide in Tunis. He was surprised as most people there talk on cell phones, how old fashioned. Can you imagine talking to people on a cell phone :)

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