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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

BT ‘in talks’ over O2 buy-back from Telefonica

British telecoms giant BT said on Monday that it was in "preliminary" talks to buy back its former domestic mobile phone division O2 from Spanish peer Telefonica.

BT 'in talks' over O2 buy-back from Telefonica
Telefonica is considering "all strategic choices" for its British operations, including O2, as it seeks to reduce its debt. John D Mchugh/AFP
BT added in a statement that it had been approached by shareholders from two operators — O2 and an unnamed group — with a view to buying their UK mobile business.
 
The other operator was understood to be EE, according to sources close to the matter. EE is a joint venture between Orange of France and Deutsche Telekom of Germany.
 
The four biggest mobile phone groups in Britain are O2, EE, Vodafone and Three, which is owned by Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa.
 
Back in 2002, BT demerged its O2 division, formerly known as BT Cellnet, before it was purchased by Telefonica in 2005 for £17.7 billion ($27.8 billion).
 
Last week however, Telefonica indicated that it would consider all strategic choices for its British operations, including a possible sale.

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TECHNOLOGY

There are still 16,000 public telephones in Spain

Spain has a law to provide at least one payphone for every 3,000 inhabitants, even though an average of one call a day is made from them.

There are still 16,000 public telephones in Spain
Photo: pawpopa3336/Depositphotos

New data reveals that Spain currently has over 16,000 public payphone dotted around the length of breadth of Spain even though an average of one call a day is made from them.

Telefonica sources cited by news agency Efe revealed that Spain's biggest telecommunications company currently spends €4.52 million a year maintaining the phone booths.

Despite the fact that they are rarely used, Telefonica is tied to a “universal service obligation” imposed by the government to provide and maintain in working order a public payphone for every 3,000 inhabitants in each town of 1,000 or more and one cabin in all municipalities of less than 1,000 inhabitants.

The company estimates that of the 16,000 currently in use, half are almost never used and 12,000 ceased to be profitable years ago, losing the company some €3 million  a year.

The number of payphones has been vastly reduced since the  introduction of mobile phones. Twenty years ago there were almost four times as many payphones across Spain  –  55,000 payphones available in 1999 – and you could expect to find one on many a street corner.

Spain's communications regulator CNMC has called on the government to drop the universal service obligation for public payphones after a recent survey found that nearly 9 in 10 Spaniards (88 percent) admitted to never having used a public payphone in their life.

When was the last time you used one?

READ ALSO: Could technology be killing off Spain's sociable mealtimes?

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