Bell Atlantic Raising Price Of Local Pay Phone Call to 35 Cents in Massachusetts
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Bell Atlantic Raising Price Of Local Pay Phone Call to 35
Cents in Massachusetts
Price Reflects Competitive Market Conditions
July 1, 1998
BOSTON -- The price of a local call from a Bell Atlantic pay phone in
Massachusetts will increase to 35 cents from 25 cents, the company
The process of adjusting each Bell Atlantic pay telephone to the new rate
starts today and will take several weeks to complete.
Under FCC rules that implement the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the
price of local calls was deregulated on Oct. 7, 1997. Since then, most
former Bell companies and major independent pay phone service providers
across the country have adopted 35 cents as the fair market price of a local
call in a deregulated market.
Bell Atlantic-Massachusetts raised the coin rate from 10 cents to 25 cents
in April of last year. Before that, the price had last changed in 1953. In
1997, Bell Atlantic reduced its rates by $32 million and provided customers
with an $11 million one-time adjustment to offset additional revenue
generated by that increase.
"The first change removed the subsidies from other services that kept the
price of local calls from pay phones artificially low," said Lorraine
Chickering, president-Bell Atlantic Public Communications. "Now with
total deregulation of the pay phones, market conditions will dictate the
price of a local call. This second change moves us to a market-based price
approach in Massachusetts," she explained.
"Letting the market establish fair prices will promote the availability of pay
phones, whether Bell Atlantic's or a competitor's, because the price will
support the service," Chickering said. "According to our customers in
other markets, the local call is still a great value at 35 cents.
"Like any competitive business, we need to respond to market conditions,"
she said. "We compete with hundreds of providers for sites where
customers need pay phones. We must pay competitive commissions to
property owners to place our pay phones in their space, whether they are
fast food outlets, gas stations, major airports, or municipalities responsible
for sidewalk phones.
"We also must charge competitive prices to the users of our pay phones,"
Chickering said, "and the competitive price that has emerged nationwide is
35 cents for a local call."
After studying the telecommunications market, Congress in 1996
confirmed that the pay telephone business is competitive, ordered it
deregulated, and required that all direct and indirect subsidies of the service
be eliminated. The goal of Congress was "to promote competition...and
the widespread deployment of pay phone services to the benefit of the
general public," according to the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
Bell Atlantic on May 1 raised the price of a local call to 35 cents in Maine.
Last November, the new price was adopted in New Hampshire, Vermont,
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland,
Virginia and West Virginia. Coin phone price increases will be considered
in other markets, including Rhode Island and New York, as conditions
In Massachusetts, Bell Atlantic provides 411 information, 911 emergency
and 800 toll-free calling free from its pay phones.
Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX --
is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry.
With more than 41 million telephone access lines and 6.7 million wireless
customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of
advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless
services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell
Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-
growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in