TELEPHONE boxes may be phased out in return for a pledge to ensure mobile phone reception everywhere in France.
Orange is currently obliged to have at least one box in every commune, and two in those of 1,000 people or more. However, it says they cost too much to maintain compared to the use that is made of them – being mainly a handful or tourists or people whose mobile phone batteries have run down.
Digital Economy Minister Axelle Lemaire says she is convinced by the argument, but notes there are still many rural areas without mobile phone coverage.
Speaking at a digital event in Bordeaux, she said: “I can quite see that they are now often obsolete, but in some parts of France people are very much attached to their phone boxes – especially the local councillors, but residents too – and we must not just remove them from one day to the next without making sure there’s mobile coverage.”
There are thought to be about a hundred communes which still get no mobile coverage.
The state intends to put in place measures over coming months to support the telecoms companies in extending the mobile network to these remaining areas.
Photo: Rüdiger Wölk/ Wkimedia Commons