When youre watching a movie or TV show and a character ducks into a phone booth
to make a quick call, you can bet the film was made before the mid1990s, before
just about everyone had a cell phone.
As the venerable phone booth fades into history, AT&T says it will be completely
out of the pay phone business by the end of 2008. It says it will honor existing
contracts and customer service commitments until then.
The company said it plans to phase out both public pay phones and phones
provided under contracts at prisons through the end of next year. All customers
will receive advance notification of specific plans as well as information on
other potential providers and product options.
Just to confuse matters, AT&T says the move affects only AT&T pay phones in what
the company calls its "traditional 13state service area" only, primarily the
region formerly served by SBC.
BellSouth Corp., which was acquired by AT&T Inc. in late 2006, had previously
exited the pay phone business in its ninestate service area. AT&Ts wholesale
pay phone services are not affected, the company said.
"This is the right time for us to take this step on behalf of our customers,
employees and stockholders," said David Huntley, senior vice president for
Customer Information Services. "We expect that independent providers will pick
up much of this business, and, as we exit the business, we will be able to
refocus our resources to areas that offer stronger growth potential and greater
opportunity for the company."
Pay phones in the United States have declined across the industry from about 2.6
million phones in 1998 to an estimated 1 million phones today.
** Check out our AT&T Prepaid Phone Cards