Public phone booths on their last legs in Hanoi

TN News

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The state-run Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications (VNPT) has said it is ready to remove all of its public phone booths in Hanoi because of shrinking demand.

The last major city in Vietnam that is yet to remove the VNPT's monopoly payphone service, called "CardPhone" is now considering eliminating around a thousand of its booths.

Tran Manh Hung, director of VNPT Hanoi, said very few people are using them now, ICTnews reported.

A report by the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications says nearly 90 percent of people aged 15-54 in the country are using cell phones, explaining why people no longer use payphones as often as in the late 1990s when cell phones were expensive.

Launched in 1997 with more than 11,000 booths mainly placed in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang, CardPhone has seen revenues plunge sharply since 2004.

According to a 2006 report, the phone booths, which cost VNPT US$1.2 million, account for less than 0.5 percent of the firm's total annual revenue.

VNPT Da Nang in April last year reported that all of its phone booths have been removed, while HCMC has completed the task of taking them out by the end of September, according to local reports.

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