First the time lady, now pay phones

AT&T is making it hard to deal with the fact that it’s 2007 and we still don’t have no freakin’ flying cars. They’re getting rid of their pay phones.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. According to the LA Times article I read this morning, they’re actually just selling them off. As you’re probably aware most of the pay phones you see on the street are owned by independent companies anyway, so it’s not that bad. I mean, if you run out of juice on your mobile and see a phone that doesn’t seem to be covered in semen and Slurpee, then you’ll be good to go. If you have change.

AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. are the last two major companies still in the business. BellSouth Corp. unloaded its pay phones in 2003, before AT&T acquired the company at the end of last year, and Qwest Communications International Inc. sold its pay phone division in 2004.

Verizon spokesman Jim Smith said the New York-based company, which has 225,000 pay phones in 28 states and the District of Columbia, had no current plans to quit the business.

Willard Nichols, president of the American Public Communications Council Inc., which represents independent pay phone owners, said he saw a bright future.

“I honestly don’t think the demise of pay phones is around the corner,” he said, noting that Americans make an estimated 1.7 billion calls from pay phones every year. “Particularly for the poor segments of the U.S. population, the pay phone is a lifeline.”

You know that last part is true. When I was homeless, I relied on pay phones a lot. I had a weekly call setup with my grandmother and she knew the number to call me on at that specific time. What actually urged me to get a cell phone was that fateful day in ’00 when my car broke down in Beverly Hills and it took me almost an hour to find a phone. I walked all over that useless city trying to find a pay phone, at least one that worked. Still, I don’t want pay phones to ever not exist again. I like them. Even if I don’t ever use them.


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