July 28, 2006

Pay Phones Suffer As Cell Phone Use Rises

payphoneny.gif With rising cell phone use and vandalism and neglect taking their toll, pay phones are disappearing around the nation, reports ABCNews.

"Consumer activists and advocates for the poor have protested the drop in numbers saying that public phones are necessary in emergencies and represent a lifeline for those who can't afford a cell phone or even a landline.

Nationwide, the number of pay phones estimated to have dropped by half to approximately 1 million over the last nine years.

"If a pay phone isn't covering its costs, we take it out," said Jim Smith, a spokesman for Verizon, which operates more pay phones in New York than any other company.

The drop in pay-phone numbers angers advocates, who are quick to point out that cell phones and sometimes any phones at all are prohibitively expensive for many people.

A full 7.1 percent of the nation's households had no phone of any kind in November 2005, up from 4.7 percent three years earlier, according to the Federal Communications Commission. For those people, and for the estimated 43 percent of U.S. residents with no cell phones (as of June 2004), pay phones are especially crucial, advocates say.

Pay phones also serve an important purpose during disastors. Many pay phones will keep working when most lines are down because of their direct wiring and the phone company's backup power stores."

Related stories from around the world:

-- Phone Booth Nostalgia

-- Plan for free public phone booths in Maine

-- Finland to abandon its payphone business by spring 2006

-- Public Telephones Get the Call in South Korea

-- Slow demise of a very British icon

-- Korea. Mobile Phones Drive Out Street Phone Booths

-- Belgium to dismantle 4,000 phone booths

-- Phone booths in England losing their popularity

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