Technology shouldn't nix phone booths yet

Posted: Thursday, August 07, 2003

To the American Public Communications Council that thinks the phone booth is headed for extinction: Please put that thought on hold.

Despite what you see on films, TV shows and commercials, not everyone carries a cell phone. Costs for cell phone service are not yet down to the affordability level where most people could have one. And even when that cost does comes down, it's no guarantee that all will get one or that the one they get will be usable where and when they need to use it.

The great thing about phone booths are their convenience and low cost. If they were taken away, where would people who can't afford a monthly bill be able to make a phone call, especially an emergency 911 call?

... On the bad side, phone booths have gotten a seedy reputation thanks to drug dealers and other ne'er-do-wells who use them as their front office, pun intended.

On the good side, the old-style booth with the folding door allows private conversation, something missing in today's world. As anyone who's been in a waiting room recently can concur, now we're forced to eavesdrop on inane conversations about picking up groceries or the kids for their soccer game. If we wanted to know people's life stories, we'd watch the reality show. Leave us to pore over well-thumbed issues of Good Housekeeping and People in peace, please.

Let's not be in a rush to say farewell to the phone booth. There are plenty of people left who depend on its availability.

The Press and Sun Bulletin, Binghamton, N.Y.

Aug. 1

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