The first payphone was installed in New Haven, Conn. in June 1880 with payphone usage peaking in 2000 when there were more than two million payphones in service. By 2009, AT&T had exited the payphone business and, by the end of last year, it was estimated that less than 100,000 payphones remained in service in the U.S.
But while consumers have largely abandoned payphones, regulators have not. That’s why, today, the FCC initiated a proceeding to consider whether certain regulatory obligations associated with payphone payments have outlived their usefulness in a dramatically changed marketplace, and whether the costs of complying with the rules now outweigh any benefits derived. We believe that the evidence, once gathered, will support the need for the reform of payphone rules that have not kept pace with the rapid and ongoing decline of payphone usage. And, importantly, we support the FCC’s continuing efforts to subject legacy obligations to economic scrutiny to weed out regulatory requirements that have long outlived their useful purpose.