Telephones: Coin-operated Boxes

House of Lords written question – answered on 15th July 2008.

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Photo of Lord Marlesford Lord Marlesford Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What their plans are for coin-operated telephone boxes in the United Kingdom; and what obligations there are on the providers of telephone services to retain such boxes.

Photo of Baroness Vadera Baroness Vadera Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

The universal service obligation is administered by the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the independent regulator. Therefore the Government have no plans for coin-operated telephone boxes. The universal service obligation applies to BT and Kingston Communications (KCom).

As defined in the direction provided by Ofcom, "The universal service provider shall ensure that at least 70 per cent of public call boxes providing call box services shall offer cash payment facilities".

Seventy per cent applies to all of BT and KCom's public call boxes in the UK.

Previously, BT/Kingston was required to provide at least one public call box within a site, save in certain limited circumstances. This was changed in 2006 to the current provision. In the statement that accompanied the amendment, Ofcom said that it would expect BT/Kingston to informally consult with the relevant unitary authority before removing a cash payment facility. Ofcom also said that it would expect BT/Kingston to enable the public to make:

freephone and reverse charge calls;card payment facilities, save in exceptional circumstances; anda call for the minimum existing fee using alternative payment methods.

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