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Public Telephones: Rural Areas

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL4147, tabled on 17 November 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the importance of public telephone boxes in rural areas; and what steps they will take to ensure they are maintained in situ in areas with poor mobile signal.

Answered on

1 December 2021

The Government recognises the importance of public telephone boxes to people across the UK. The telephony Universal Service Order requires that certain providers maintain telephony services across the UK, including access to public telephone boxes.

It is for Ofcom to designate the providers subject to this Order and set rules for public telephone boxes, including the rules regarding their removal. Ofcom estimates that there are 1500 public telephone boxes in areas with poor mobile coverage, many of which will be rural.

Ofcom has recently announced a consultation designed to strengthen these rules. Ofcom’s proposals include a criterion that protects public telephone boxes where they do not have coverage from all four mobile network providers.