Are Pay Phones Dead? City Of Boston Says Not Yet


BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — They may seem like relics, but the few remaining pay phones in Boston are still placing plenty of calls, even during a pandemic.

It wasn't easy to find a working pay phone in the city, but on Monday, WBZ's Matt Shearer made it his mission to find one.

And lucky for him, he found one outside the Back Bay Station. When he arrived to check it out, the phone was being used by Glenn from Boston.

"That's the only pay phone that I know of left anywhere," said Glenn. He told Matt; he uses the pay phone regularly because he hates cell phones.

"They just anger me, so I smash them...see you later," Glenn said. Well, lucky for Matt this pay phone wasn't smashed at all.

So once Glenn finished his call, Matt disinfected the mouthpiece, dropped in a quarter, and called himself.

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And good news, it worked. Matt said one quarter got him 15 minutes of call time.

In the last 10 years, major service providers like Verizon got out of the pay phone game.

A representative from Boston's Broadband and Cable Office said they weren't exactly sure how many pay phones are still operational in the city. However, they do occasionally receive calls about pay phones being vandalized.

It sounds like the pay phone demand is still alive here in Boston, even if the industry is running out of coins.

Also, to enhance the pay phone experience, Pacific Telemanagement Services piloted efforts with the Department of Innovation and Technology to enhance existing pay phones in the city by adding Wifi spots to some locations.

This effort was launched about 10 years ago and aims to enhance consumer support services for residents and visitors.

The company also launched a pilot program in New York City that turned 10 pay phones into Wi-Fi hotspots by installing a router at each kiosk.

Officials said the success of this program has allowed New Yorkers and tourists to access the internet from as far as a few blocks away using personal devices.

So, it looks like pay phones are keeping up with the times, so next time you head out the Back Bay, don't forget some coins.

WBZ NewsRadio's Matt Shearer (@MattWBZ) Reports

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(Photo: Matt Shearer/WBZ NewsRadio)


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