Blayney resident Kristin Roach knows too well the importance of payphones in times of emergency after her brother broke his nose in Barry and used the village’s payphone as the only means of communication back to his family.
But now that four of the shire’s phones, including Barry’s, are earmarked for removal she isn’t sure what would happen in similar circumstances.
“Out at Barry you don’t get any mobile service,” she said.
“I don’t know how he would have got back without that phone. He was slipping in and out of consciousness.”
The payphones in Adelaide Street and Burton Street in Blayney, on the Orange Road in Forest Reefs and on the Newbridge Road in Barry will be removed in April after a recent review by Telstra indicated that they are no longer “meeting Telstra’s requirements” due to low-patronage and continuing vandalism.
Telstra Area General Manager for Western NSW, Darren Smith, said that the shire’s payphones are currently half way through a 90 day review that occurs every two years to assess their ongoing viability.
“We work with the Blayney Shire Council to sticker the phones because it gives the community the opportunity to comment,” he said.
“The phone users are encouraged to call in as they may be able to notify us of something we mightn’t be aware of.”
Mr Smith said that the review has so far indicated that the phones are frequently vandalised with one phone destroyed when the handset was set on fire.
“From Telstra’s point of view they also have low patronage with some phones the total usage over twelve months was less than $50,” he said.
Despite Telstra’s announcement to remove the four phones Mr Smith said that a final determination won’t be made until the end of the three month review with comments from the public welcome until April 14.
“The review has to run its course and we will listen to what Blayney council says,” he said.
Mr Smith said that even if Telstra goes ahead with the payphones’ removal they will still comply with the government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) which dictates the number of payphones the company needs to provide.
“One thing we will look at will be mobile phone coverage in the area and obviously if it was poor it would be a big tick to keeping the payphone,” he said.
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