BT is to scrap half of the UK’s remaining 40,000 telephone boxes during the next five years.
More than half of the boxes lose money and a third handle just a single phone call or are not used at all each month, the telecoms company said.
The cost of maintaining payphones each year is around £6m.
A spokeswoman told Sky News that 13,400 payphones – about 28% of the current estate – would disappear during the next three years, and another 6,600 would follow by 2022.
“BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, but with usage declining by over 90% in the last decade, we continue to review and remove payphones which are no longer used,” she said.
“Payphone removals are carried out in strict adherence to Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of local authorities.
“In all instances where there’s no other payphone within 400 metres, we’ll ask for consent from the local authority to remove the payphone. Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone.”
There are currently 7,000 traditional red phone boxes on the streets – 2,400 of which have been designated as grade II listed buildings.
At their peak in 2002, before mobile phones became a staple of daily life, there were 92,000 payphones across the UK.
Since 2008, communities have been encouraged to buy unused phone boxes for £1, under the firm’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme, to preserve their own part of Britain’s heritage.