Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
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Italy hangs up its last public pay phones

Pay phones to remain in Italy's hospitals and prisons.

Public pay phones on the streets of Italy will soon become a thing of the past after a decision was taken to begin the process of removing the more than 16,000 phone booths still found around the country.

Italy's Communications Regulatory Authority (AgCom) on Friday established that the telecommunications company TIM is no longer required to guarantee the public service.

The decision, taken after a public consultation, will lead to the gradual decommissioning of phone boxes and pay phones from streets across the country, according to Italian media reports.

The only places where public pay phones will remain is in hospitals, barracks and prisons as well as in remote mountain shelters where there is no mobile cell phone coverage.

Public pay phones in Turin. Photo: Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock.com.


Italy's first telephone booth was installed in Piazza S. Babila in Milan on 10 February 1952, paving the way for pay phones across the country over the subsequent decades.

However their use has decreased dramatically in recent years with the arrival of mobile phones, leading to vintage pay phone tokens and telephone cards becoming collectors' items.

In 2019 phone booths in Italy registered an average of 277 calls per cabin, with this number down to just 118 calls per cabin two years later.

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