Feeds

Bhutan plans first unattended phone booths

Better late than never

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Bhutan has belatedly joined the 20th Century telecoms revolution with plans to install the remote Himalayan kingdom's first unattended public phone booths.

Existing phone booths in Bhutan (population: two million) require operator supervision. But now the country is going hi-tech, with plans to introduce phone boxes that allow punters to make their own calls.

Local paper Kuensel agonises about the effect the new phone booths will have on Bhutan's telephone operator workforce. Meanwhile, it charts the progress in getting the technology hooked up.

"BT [Bhutan Telecom] has placed five unmanned booths, three along Thimphu main thoroughfare and two at the road safety and transport authority office. The telephones inside the booths are yet to be installed but it will be done any day now say BT officials," the paper reports.

Bhutan Telecom should not, of course, be confused with BT plc. After all, our own BT would never be implicated in a delay in installing telecoms equipment.

Perish the thought.

Getting back to the story, the finances of the whole project are already been questioned.

Kuensel reports: "The unmanned booth will require users to buy BT's pre-paid 'scratch' cards that was launched several months ago and has almost gone out of public memory."

It seems that the good people of Bhutan have gone for a US-style system rather than the smart-card based calling cards commonplace in Europe.

"Customers will first have to dial 800, enter the card number, personal identity number (revealed upon 'scratching' the back of the card) and dial the desired number. An automated voice informs the caller of the balance value of the card," the paper reports.

"Using the call cards will be cheaper because the existing public booths charge a 30 per cent commission on calls."

And there are other advantages too. The new unattended phone booths are not aimed at putting existing manned phone kiosks out of business, rather they will provide an "additional services to its [BT's] clients during emergencies when the public booths are closed and sleeping."

Err, yes, we think we see what you mean.

But wait. Even before the unattended phone boxes go operational, there are already concerns about vandalism.

When street lights are broken and destroyed BT officials expect unmanned booths may be vandalised. So there's no immediate plan for a wider roll-out of the technology beyond the nation's capital city.

"Right now we want to see how it works in Thimphu," a cautious BT official told Kuensel. ®

Related Stories

The pay-phone is not dead!
This phone box does not exist
BT and Marconi to install 28,000 e-payphones
BT (that's BT plc) cuts off payphones

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.