"While mobile phone usage has increased over the years, there is still a significant population who may not have access to a mobile phone because they do not own one, are traveling abroad, or their phone needs to be recharged," said John Ackerman, Denver International Airport's chief commercial officer, in a release.
To support the free service, the phones are equipped with high definition 17-inch LCD screens used for digital advertising. It allows advertisers to promote their products airport-wide with 15-second digital advertisements, and offers passengers digital coupons via QR codes as well as opt-in SMS-advertising.
Trying the Service Out
I traveled through Denver on Friday and decided to give the service a try, calling a friend in Australia. The phones are plentiful in United's B-concourse and situated in both gate areas and along the terminal walls. You simply pick up the receiver and dial like any landline. Before my call was connected, a recording advised the free call would last 10 minutes with options to continue the call at a rate of $0.25 per minute at the end of the grace period.
The connection was surprisingly clear, though occasional airport announcements were a bit distracting in the background. There was no option to raise the volume on the phone that I could tell. At eight minutes into the call, a recording temporarily interrupted, providing a two-minute warning. Another 30-second warning occurred near the end of the call. Both times my friend said she simply heard silence, so it's only the caller who receives the verbal warning.
At the 10-minute mark, the call abruptly ends with a recording, "Your 10-minute call has been disconnected. To redial this same number, enter a calling card or credit card number, or for an operator or rate information, press zero."
I haven't used a public phone at an airport in years and didn't see anyone else using the free phones in Denver. But it's still a unique amenity and will certainly be useful for anyone without a phone or whose battery needs charging.
For more information on services and facilities at Denver International Airport, click here.