Phone box's number not up just yet

KIDS from the nineties and noughties may remember walking to the public telephone box, feeding it coins and talking to friends, away from the prying ears of parents.

Earlier generations may remember the coin-operated red phones, introduced in 1964, and later, the green phones from the 1970s, the gold phones introduced in 1983 and the blue phones introduced in 1989.

But later generations may not have even used a public payphone.

The public telephone box may be in decline, but  according to Telstra, it will not disappear.

In 2004, Tasmania had 992 public payphones. 

Less than 10 years later, there are 500.

Launceston and its surrounding suburbs, including Invermay, Riverside and Mowbray, has more than 30 payphones on the streets, inner Devonport has up to 10, and smaller townships such as Westbury, Beaconsfield, Pyengana and Avoca all have one of the boxes.

Telstra spokesman James Howe said demand for payphones had declined by more than 80 per cent since 2000.

He said as a result, the number of payphones nationally had reduced from 34,000 in 2003, to 18,035 in 2013.

``Since the introduction and widespread take-up of the mobile phone, payphones are declining in use and popularity,'' Mr Howe said.

``There are no plans to phase out payphones, and Telstra will continue to work with communities to meet their local needs.''


Twitter: @isabelbird

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