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The Dead Phones

HLG_PhoneDeathI know a building in Whitehall where the government works. It’s a big concrete office block that you might pass by without really looking at it (if you work in London, that is). In this building there are something like 2,000 desk phones. They sit, silent, unwanted and unloved.

They are the dead phones.

I spent a few days in this building over the last couple of months, working from one of the hot desks shared out between a range of consultants, contractors and suppliers.

During a period of 8 days I sat within earshot of about 20 fixed phones. I would say that in total, one phone rang every 4 hours (I didn’t track for the first 2 days, but I did for the remaining 6, during which there were a total of 12 calls).

That means at least 8 of the phones didn’t ring at all. Not once in 8 days.

I asked a couple of the staff there about their phone usage. Most of them had a fixed number, but they didn’t know what it was. One of the first actions that new staff do on joining the organisation is to route their fixed phone to their mobile. That’s what they actually use to make and receive calls now.

Desk phones have become the new paperweights. They sit there, dead or dying just above a desktop pc that is also becoming extinct, replaced by a mobile alternative.

If A Phone Rings and No One Answers, Do You Still Pay Line Rental?

But they still cost money. Line rental, calls packages (how many unused minutes?), hardware maintenance, support service. They may be dead, these phones, but that doesn’t mean they are free.

I wonder how much it would take to give them a proper burial?