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BT phone boxes are losing out to mobile phones to such an extent that the monster telco has announced it will not be installing any new boxes this year.

Revenue from the 141,000 boxes had fallen 37 per cent over the last two years, BT said, a situation it has tried to remedy by upping the minimum charge from 10p to 20p.

A BT spokesman said that the increase in use of pre paid mobile phones in particular had contributed to the slump in use of pay phones. He added that many pay phones did not meet their maintenance and cleaning costs because of high levels of vandalism and theft.

He told The Telegraph: "We don't expect to increase the number of payphones at present. That is not to say we have installed our last telephone box." He said that BT had a universal service obligation to "provide public service payphones in remote and rural areas."

To compete with the rise of the cell phone, BT will try to reinvent the payphone. It said it was upgrading some phone boxes, installing interactive phones that provide net access, email and text messaging. About 2,700 will be converted over the next six months. ®

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