Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Payphones that accept coins have been largely discontinued in some places, due to the high occurrence of damage to the payphone caused by attempted theft of the money.
Payphones are often found in public places, transportation hubs such as airports or train stations, and on street corners but their popularity is falling due to the rise in cell phones and the general unprofitability of payphone service. The abandonment of payphones by telephone companies has angered some people who consider them a communication staple for low-income and low-credit consumers.
In recent years, deregulation has made possible payphone service provided by a variety of companies. Such telephones are called customer-owned coin-operated telephones (COCOT), and are often found in a state of moderate to severe disrepair when compared with a payphone owned and operated by the local telephone company. One common implementation is commonly operated by vending machine companies and contains a hardwired list of non-toll telephone exchanges to which it will complete calls. All payphones on the street and in buildings in Japan are exclusively installed and maintained by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT).
In the United States, the coin rate for a local direct-dialed station-to-station call from a payphone has been fifty cents in most areas since mid-2001. During the 1960s and 1970s, the same call in the United States and Canada typically cost 10¢ while some cost only 5¢. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, this price gradually changed to 20¢, and again rose to 25¢ in some areas between 1985 and 1990. In the late 1990s, the price rose to 35¢ in many areas.
In the United States, a payphone operator collects an FCC-mandated fee of 25¢ from the owner of a toll-free number for each call successfully placed to that number from the payphone. This results in many toll-free numbers rejecting calls from payphones in an attempt to avoid this surcharge; calling cards which require the caller to dial through a toll-free number will often pass this surcharge back to the caller, either as a separate itemized charge, a 25¢ to 50¢ increase in the price of the call, or (in the case of many pre-paid calling cards) the deduction of an extra number of minutes from the balance of the pre-paid card.
- For North America:
- American Public Communications Council - the trade association for payphone service providers
- Several sites with lists of payphone numbers and locations (including some outside North America):
- For the UK:
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