AT&T Announces Intention to Withdraw From Pay Phones

Remember when you could go just about anywhere town and find a litle black booth with a telephone symbol on it? Remember a time without cellphones, when the only way you could make a call was by finding such a booth? It seems like those days are soon coming to an end, as AT&T Inc. announced today its plans to exit the shrinking pay phone business by the end of 2008. Existing contracts and customer service commitments will continue to be honored during the period that the business is being phased out.

AT&T's Public Communications unit has continued to experience significant pressure from reduced pay phone usage, primarily as a result of the growth of alternative communications choices, such as wireless phones and personal communication devices. The company plans to phase out both public pay phones and phones provided under contracts at government correctional facilities 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.

"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."

News source: PR Newswire

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22 Comments

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That has to do again with the dot-bomb boom and the breakup of the original AT&T. Most of the RBOCs bailed out of pay phones (only VZ stayed in that business). The rest quickly sold their pay-phone businesses to other companies (the rush to bail only increased with the identiofication of pay phones with drug deals; this was, actually, the first overtones of PC in terms of business image). VZ is still the US' largest pay-phone provider; however, it is unknown if it will swallow even a significant part of AT&T's pay-phone business.

Are AT&T allowed to exit the pay phone business? Over here in the UK, BT are contractually obliged to keep and maintain a certain number of pay phones. They are not allowed to get rid of them completely.

I stopped using pay phones after I once saw an ear stuck to the receiver of the handset. Don't know how it ripped off.

i think people also stopped using them when they kept raising the prices. went from 25 cents to 50 cents in less than like 2 years. Some phones have 60 cents, some 55, its very odd.

lol, i needed to use a pay phone at a Halloween party because my costume had no place for my cell phone.. Getting to the pay phone was hell, it was behind the gate which if you exit you can't come back.

and my mom tried using a pay phone the other day in the mall and she said none of them worked because nobody uses pay phones anymore and they are not taken care of anymore.

I'm sure someone else will pick up the business, there will always be a need for pay phones somewhere, even if they are hard to find. AT&T will then charge that provider to use their network.

I remember back in "the good old days" (this is WAY back in the 60's and 70's), when I school event was over,
I would call my home number from a pay phone. After the first ring, I would hang up, which was the signal
for my parents (before I had a license) to come and get me. Or, if I wanted to talk to me, I would let it
ring once, hang up, and call it back, let it ring once, hang up. Then my parents could call me back. They
had the payphone number, and the payphones back then would ring if you dialed one. I think the phone
company must have caught on to that little trick years ago by making it where you couldn't dial a lot of
pay phones...but by that time, who cares, just about everyone has a cell phone now.

would you like to receive a collect call from "mom, come pick me up now!

mom says "no, thanks" and she comes and picks me up :)

this way WAYYYY back in the 90's

not everyone has or needs a cell phone, its good that that there phasing them out
but i think there should still be some around

I agree. Although I have a cell, I only put minutes on it if I need to. I barely have a use for one, just the occasional ring up. If I wanna talk to someone, I'll talk at home.
They should still keep some around. However, this is not the end of pay phones. (We don't have AT&T payphones in Canada anyways).

Same here. I havent used one sinse I was in HS (graduated in 96). Even then I wouldent touch them because every one smelled like someone ****ed on/in it.

Least the convicts are loosing the phones. They shouldent have them peroid.