by Kish Rajan
If Clark Kent wanted to turn into Superman in California today, he’d struggle to find a phone booth. Across the entire state there are only 27,000 payphones left, down 70% from 2007.
It’s no big surprise that the payphone is going the way of the dodo bird. According to the Pew Research Center 92% of American adults own cellphones. If you’re desperate to make a call and find yourself with a dead battery, chances are good you’re going to ask a friendly stranger to borrow their cell phone before you’re going to search out a payphone.
Late last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that acknowledges the demise of the payphone. SB 1055 puts an end to the Payphone Services Committee and the Payphone Service Providers Committee Fund which was being used to, among other things, “fund programs to … educate consumers on matters related to payphones.”
Let that sink in for a second. As a state, until a few weeks ago, we were still spending money to educate people about payphones — something the vast majority of citizens don’t want or need.
That’s pretty emblematic of how the legislature works when it comes to telecom. There are lots of outdated laws and committees and funds on the books but change comes incredibly slowly.
That’s why the death of the payphone committee is a small but symbolic step.
California should turn its attention to fixing other policies that keep outdated technology tethered to our streets and our homes even when we as a population have moved on.
Read the full post on Fox and Hounds here.