• Kyodo


Rentable mobile phone chargers have been installed in a handful of public phone booths in Fukuoka, the first endeavor of its kind in the country, NTT West said recently.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp., alongside the phone charger sharing service Inforich Inc., is now offering portable chargers in eight locations in the city during an approximately six-month trial period starting Friday.

The chargers, installed by the Tokyo-based Inforich, can be returned to a different public phone booth as well as convenience stores that have installed Inforich’s chargers.

Users will pay ¥165 for up to an hour, with the charge rising to ¥330 for a maximum of 48 hours. Before using the devices, an app must be downloaded onto the smartphone.

Mobile phone chargers are especially useful during times of disaster. During the major 2018 earthquake in Hokkaido, residents and tourists alike flocked to the Sapporo city hall in order to charge their phones after the island experienced a major blackout.

To avoid what happened in Sapporo, Inforich came to an agreement with Fukuoka to loan out its chargers for free during times of disaster.

Japan has around 66,000 public phone booths but the number has been dwindling due to the prevalence of cellphones.

As a new way of utilizing public phone booths, NTT West has also allowed mobile phone operators to set up radio base stations on top of them.

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