It’s The End of The Pay Phone as We Knew It

NEW YORK — Top U.S. phone company AT&T plans to end its dwindling pay phone business by the end of 2008, as more consumers use mobile phones.

The move affects AT&T pay phones in the company’s previous 13-state service area, including California and Texas. BellSouth Corp, which AT&T acquired late last year, has already exited the pay phone business in its nine-state service area.

Pay phones in the United States have declined across the industry from about 2.6 million phones in 1998 to an estimated 1 million phones today, AT&T said.

The use of pay phones has been declining in much of the developed world due to the popularity of mobile phones. But some complain that ending pay phone service restricts low-income, low-credit consumers’ access to communications.

AT&T has grown its profit in recent years, as strong sales from its mobile phone and Internet business make up for a fall in traditional phone use.

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