Monday, December 3, 2007

AT&T to hang up on pay phones – but is anyone listening?

When was the last time you used a pay phone?

AT&T is betting that you’re so attached to your iPhone that you can’t remember.

The company announced today that it will disconnect from its share of the pay phone business by the end of 2008.

And – get this – InformationWeek reports AT&T expects “independent providers” to fill the service gap.

Maybe they’d be interested in a story our own Ben Mook wrote last year, when he reported that larger companies operated almost 90 percent of the pay phones in the state. (In Maryland, Verizon has by far the lion’s share of the industry).

There’s no question the industry’s declined: WaPo reported that the number of pay phones dropped by 50 percent in Maryland between 2000 and 2006, down to 24,784 from 43,336.

In his story, Ben even quoted Mason Harris, president of Rockville’s Robin Technologies Inc.: “The industry has gotten very uncompetitive for the independent businessperson,” Harris said in 2006. “It’s just not a level playing field.”

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

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