Do Payphones Still Exist?

It might seem surprising to learn that The Payphone Project gets a fair number of page views from people who typed this question into a search engine. It becomes less surprising when you realize that many smaller towns and communities across the country have absolutely zero payphones.

The answer is yes, payphones still exist. For calendar year 2016 the FCC reported about 100,000 payphones in the United States. That number has most certainly dropped by now (2019) but it is unclear if the FCC intends to continue releasing statistics on the country’s payphone population. The FCC’s statistics do not include the unknown number of rogue payphones set up by payphone industry refugees. These phones, usually solar-powered and wirelessly connected to the telephone network, are known to be placed within payphone enclosures that had been stripped of their once-legitimate payphones and abandoned.

Many smaller American cities have none but you should expect to find working payphones in larger cities and at transit hubs like airports, bus terminals, and subway stations. Truth be told, though, you really never know where you may or may not find a working payphone these days.

Rural areas with poor cell phone reception also have kept their payphones active in the interest of public safety.

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