Belgacom is closing the last public telephone booths in Belgium after 83 years.
The first booths appeared on Belgium’s streets in 1932 but it was not until 1991, as part of the country’s national telegraph and telephone company's evolution into an autonomous public sector company, that their presence was legally required.
Belgacom was obliged to make 14,000 public telephones available across the country, equivalent to 14 for every 10,000 inhabitants.
In 1997 the operator renewed all telephone booths and increased their number to 18,000.
At this time an average of 15 hours of calls per month were made from each telephone booth.
With the advent of the mobile telephone, however, pay phone usage decreased and by 2013 less than one call per month was being made from each booth.
That same year, the legal requirement was lifted and the operator decided to start a programme that would see the removal of all remaining telephone booths.
By the end of last year there just 600 booths left. The last one will be dismantled at 10am on 1 June in Antwerp.
Not all are disappearing, however. The operator launched a competition earlier this year to give away 30 booths to people committed to preserving them, turning them into an artwork or giving them a completely new use.
The winners have been chosen and each will receive a booth in the coming days.
The Q2 edition of European Communications magazine features an exclusive interview with Belgacom CEO Dominique Leroy. Click here to receive your copy