Cellphones Sound Last Call for British Icon

Famous red booths disappear from English streets
By Laila Weir,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2008 12:18 PM CDT
Cellphones Sound Last Call for British Icon
Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson In Dubai.   (Getty Images)

Britain’s iconic red phone booths are going extinct in a country where cellphones outnumber people, USA Today reports. British Telecom is shrinking the overall number of pay phones and replacing the red booths with modern ones that double as wireless hotspots. With just 12,700 of the originals left on the streets, discarded red boxes are finding homes with collectors worldwide.

Citing cost, BT has removed one-third of pay phones since 2002. Almost 60% are unprofitable, and each costs about $2,000 a year to maintain, says a rep. Meanwhile, a restoration company sells the old booths for $10,000 or more. "The red box is iconic," said one mobile-using Londoner. "It's like big red, double-decker buses, which are dying out too." (More Britain stories.)

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