Last Friday, Proximus removed Belgium’s last ever phone box in Antwerp’s Wilrijk neighbourhood, in the presence of Antwerp alderman Ludo Van Campenhout (N-VA) and chairman of Proximus’ board of directors, Stefaan de Clerck. In 1997, Belgacom (now Proximus) had a fleet of 18,000 public telephone boxes. Use of them decreased over the years and as a result, legislation requiring they be kept in working order was scrapped in 2013. Around 30 of them are to nevertheless get a new lease of life in museums and cultural organisations. The removal ceremony was a symbolic one since it wasn’t strictly speaking the last phonebox physical present on the streets of Belgium. It will indeed be difficult to nail down the precise date the very last one will be removed, said Proximus spokesman, Jan Margot. Some phone boxes currently display posters for events that are still running, others must have the electricity cut off and yet others are cemented into the ground and therefore very difficult to dismantle, he added.
Using a phone box is most definitely a thing of the past. “Since the start of the year, you can no longer make payments with a Proton card, meaning that the only way to pay for a phone call would be a phone card, and these haven’t been on sale for a long time now,” said Jan Margot. Over the course of the last five months, the phone box was used twice by Proximus staff and once as part of a radio programme test.
Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)