NEW YORK - New Yorkers, spared the 35-cent local call after the payphone industry was deregulated in 1996, will be the last to begin paying 50 cents for a local call from a payphone as Verizon begins changing 110,000 payphones to the new price statewide today. This is the first increase since 1984. The new price buys a local call of unlimited length. Formerly, Verizon charged 25 cents for a three-minute payphone call.
"Nobody likes to raise prices, but the reality is that we need to replace revenue lost to competing technologies. We need to operate at the new market price of 50 cents here in New York so we can maintain the business and keep payphones in the communities where our customers need them," said Paul V. Francischetti, vice president of marketing and business development for Verizon Public Communications.
Verizon last September began changing the price of a local payphone call to 50 cents in the other states it serves, following moves by SBC, Bell South, Qwest and others to increase the price of a local call. The company cited market pressures, principally generated by wireless phone usage, as the key reason for the increase, saying additional revenue was needed to maintain wide availability of payphones.
Conversion of the state's payphones will take several weeks. During the transition, customers should pay the price posted on the phone they are using.
Verizon also will begin charging 50 cents in New York for a local directory-assistance listing requested from a payphone. The pressures on payphone revenues prevent the company from providing that service for free.
On orders from Congress, the Federal Communications Commission in 1997 passed rules fostering competition and deregulating the business. Local phone company payphone operations had traditionally been subsidized by other services. With those subsidies removed, the fair market price of a local call went to 35 cents in most markets across the country in 1997. Under competitive pressure and with revenues declining at a rate of nearly 25 percent over the past three years, prices increased last summer nationwide to 50 cents.
This is the first change in the price of a local payphone call in New York since 1984, when the price went to 25 cents from 10 cents. Before today's change to calls of unlimited length, additional two-minute periods of calling time cost 5 cents.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 132.1 million access line equivalents and 29.4 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 247,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.