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Phone Booths to Disappear

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Telefónica has announced that it will remove the 14,824 telephone booths deployed throughout Spain this year, after they have ceased to be a mandatory universal service.

The disappearance of the booths will occur at the national level in accordance with the Ninth Transitory Provision of the preliminary draft of the General Telecommunications Law. In this way, the company will begin to phase out all the booths in the country seven years before they meet their first centenary.

The first telephone booth in Spain was installed in 1928, at the end of the 1920s, in the Vienna Park booth, currently known as Florida Park, in the El Retiro park in Madrid. It was a device that was located inside a box that was opened to access the telephone.

Telefónica is the operator that is obliged to maintain this service after a tender called by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation and which is usually left void, since no operator bids for this service.

The last award was two years ago, in December 2019, and expired on 31 December, 2021.

One average weekly call

In Spain, at the end of 2020, among the 14,824 phone booths an average 0.17 calls were registered per day, which translates into one average weekly call.

The data reveals that the use of the booths has been in decline in recent years. In fact, the 0.17 calls a day registered at the end of 2020 mean reducing by more than half the average that had been recorded just over two years ago, when 0.37 calls were registered daily, that is, one use every three days, according to data from Telefónica.

The explanation of these data is related to the emergence of mobile telephony, which has been the main cause of the fall into disuse of these structures. Already in 2006 more mobile phone lines were registered than inhabitants.

More than 88% of the population admits never having used a booth, which disappeared many years ago in countries neighbouring Spain, according to data from the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC), which refers to data from the Eurobarometer 2014 .

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