Sun, Jul 22, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Chunghwa to debut new public telephone model

PEAK YEARS The 1970s and 1980s saw the number of payphones climb to 150,000 as revenue hit NT$9 billion. Today, less than 100,000 are in service

By Liu Li-jen  /  STAFF REPORTER

In view of the decreasing use of public pay telephones as more and more people opt for cellphones, Chunghwa Telecom will next month introduce a newly designed, more convenient public telephone.

The 3,500 new public telephones Chunghwa plans to install nationwide will accept coins and phone cards.

Increase in usage

Chunghwa engineer Yin Chun-tien (殷俊天) said the company hopes the advanced new public telephones will also increase public usage.

The new integrated-chip (IC) card for the new telephones has memory functions that will allow users to set up three telephone numbers for quick dialing, he said.


The function will allow parents to set up home telephone numbers on the IC cards for their children so that the children would not be forced to memorize telephone numbers, but could insert the IC cards and push one button to reach their parents instead.

Yin, who admits to being fond of public telephones, recalled that pay telephones have been in use in Taiwan for more than 60 years and have been manufactured in more than 20 designs.

The 1970s and 1980s were the peak years of public telephone usage, with more than 150,000 public telephones in service nationwide, which earned Chunghwa revenue of more than NT$9 billion (US$27million) annually, he said.


In those days, owners of grocery stores, theaters and department stores requested to have the public telephones installed nearby to increase foot traffic.

However, with the rising popularity of cellphones, there are less than 100,000 public telephones still in service.

Vivid memories

Yin said that he still vividly remembered how back then he would see solders stationed on the nation's outlying islands line up to wait their turn to use the public telephones to call home.

Yin also recalled that the telephones were also often the the target of vandals.

For instance, he said, some people would press the numbers with lighted cigarettes, while children sometimes used firecrackers to damage the handsets.

Emotional callers

There were also frequent cases of emotional callers yanking the handset cord from its connection on the phone's body.

To prevent this from happening with the new pay telephones, Chunghwa has given the new public telephones more durable cords, Yin said.

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