AT&T to hang up on pay-phone business
By The Denver
12/03/2007 11:33:24 PM MST
Mayor Phyllis Nozicka stands next to the phone booth that is the
'home office' for 'The Late Show with David Letterman,' Feb 9,
1999, in Wahoo, Neb.
The small farm town about halfway between Omaha and Lincoln has
held that distinction for two years and nine months, longer than
any of the 10 other home offices to which Letterman has referred
in his 17 years on television. (AP | Dave Weaver)
SAN ANTONIO — AT&T Inc., the biggest U.S. phone company, plans
to leave the pay-phone business after 129 years as more people
use wireless handsets to make calls on the go.
The first pay phone, installed in 1878, had an attendant who
took callers' money, AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said.
Inventor William Gray set up the first coin-operated phone in
1889 at a bank in Hartford, Conn.
Both devices were operated by AT&T predecessor companies.
At their peak in 1998, there were 2.6 million pay phones in the U.S., San
Antonio-based AT&T said Monday in a statement. That number
fell to 1 million this year, including the 65,000 phones AT&T
has in 13 states, the company said. BellSouth Corp., which
AT&T took over in 2006, had already exited the business in the
nine states where it operated.
Wireless subscribers have quadrupled in the past decade, and
about 80 percent of people in the
now have mobile phones, according to CTIA-The Wireless
Association, an industry group. AT&T added 2 million
mobile subscribers in the third quarter to reach 66 million.