Telephone booths already make little sense in a world in which almost all people have a smartphone and in which voice calls have less and less weight. As we have already explained, everything is destined for them to disappear as of January 1, 2019, but ultimately it was not. Furthermore, in 2020 Telefónica continues to be forced to maintain it. The operator must offer a cabin in each municipality with more than 1,000 inhabitants, and add an additional for every 3,000 more inhabitants. There are already several organizations that have requested its suppression.

Void extension as operator in charge of the booths

As if that were not enough, the Supreme Court has upheld the contentious-administrative appeal that Telefónica filed against the royal decree approved by the Government in 2018. In this, its status as operator in charge of providing the public telephone booth service was extended. In the judgment, dated June 24, the second additional provision of Royal Decree 1517/2018, of December 28, is declared “null because it is not in accordance with the Law”.

“The designation made by Order ETU / 1974/2016, of December 23, which designates Telefónica de España, SAU, as operator in charge of providing the universal service element, extends until December 31, 2019 of telecommunications related to the supply of a sufficient offer of public pay phones. Telefónica de España, SAU, must provide this element of the universal telecommunications service under the conditions established in the aforementioned Order ETU / 1974/2016, of December 23 ”.

The operator alleges that the law has been violated as there was no public tender, in addition to not having allowed them to make allegations. The ruling makes clear that “the Telecommunications Market Commission and the Trial Chamber are confused when they refer the provision of the services necessary for the exploitation of public pay phones in the public domain in a direct and unlimited manner of the universal service of telecommunications ”.

In addition to adding that “these benefits are, of course, requirements to which the operators in charge of the universal service are obliged, but only until the sufficient offer is covered in the terms provided by the Law and regulations mentioned above. Beyond said sufficient offer, the installation and services necessary for the operation of a public pay phone in the public domain will require the contracting of such services through the ordinary channels of relationship between authorized operators and any other type of company requesting service. telephone for public use ”.

Now, the ball returns to the executive who must make the decision he did not dare to make at the end of 2018 two years later. no longer make sense in the world in which we live and, with very few exceptions, no operator should be forced to maintain a service that no one uses.