Tuesday, 29 December 2015

End of an Era

There won't be payphones like this in MTR stations anymore
It was bound to happen eventually, but the payphones in all 87 MTR stations will begin to be phased out from January because Shinetown Telecom, the latest payphone operator in Hong Kong will not renew its contract after it expires on December 31.

An MTR spokesperson said the company tried to contact other operators, but no one expressed any interest.

As a result some 390 pay phones will be removed from next month, and they should be all gone by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

A payphone at Sha Tin station that will be removed soon
From 2003, Shinetown Telecom installed payphones in all of the then Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation's West Rail stations, before eventually extending service for the East Rail Line and Ma On Shan Line in 2004. Five years later its payphones had covered the entire network.

But with practically everyone having some kind of mobile phone, the vast majority owning smartphones, there was probably little money made in payphones. While it's a good service to have, it wasn't financially viable.

The number of payphones in Hong Kong will decrease significantly as a result. The Office of the Communications Authority reported in March there were 1,632 payphones across Hong Kong (including in MTR stations), down from about 1,920 in 2000.

This contrasts with the number of mobile phone subscribers -- 17.1 million -- almost 2.5 two mobiles per person in the city...

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