Bye bye public property pay phones

Pay phones may soon join the crank phone and pulse dialing in the dustbin of telecommunications history, if trends in San Diego and other areas continue.

Coronado tore out more than half of the pay phones it had on city property. Other small municipalities around San Diego area are getting rid of their pay phones, some due to cut down on drug dealing. Coronado's look at the city's 16 pay phones discovered they were rarely used - and costing the city money. The phones used to pay for themselves, but as cell phones proliferated, usage dropped and the city started picking up the difference.

Private companies supplying pay phones report it's a "slow market," while AT&T announced it was exiting the pay phone business in 2007. There were about one million pay phones last year, down from 2.6 million in 1998.

Pay phones remain popular in areas where citizens can't afford cell phone service and in public areas such as libraries and along transit corridors. Still, the business is down nearly 60 percent from 1984.

For more:
- San Diego Union-Tribune mourns the loss of public property pay phones. Article.

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