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    NYC Pay-Phone Cost Doubles

    Increase necessary to compete with cell phones.

    NEW YORK -- Brother, can you spare a quarter?

    Convenience store retailers in New York City, who already have reported a decline in pay-phone sales due to the growing number of cell phones, will have to overcome another hurdle in pay-phone sales as Verizon has doubled the rates on city phones from 25 cents to 50 cents.

    The 100-percent increase is the first since 1984, and follows hikes on pay phones in other areas around the country in recent years. Pay phones have been a profitable investment for retailers. But with the growth of cell phone use and the rate increase, some retailers expressed concern about the growth of the category.

    The news wasn't all bad. As a tradeoff, 50 cents now gives callers a local call of unlimited length, instead of the previous three-minute limit.

    Verizon started changing the price on phones Monday, and eventually 110,000 pay phones in all will be converted, the company said.

    The phone company says it needs to charge more because cellular phones have taken a huge chunk out of the pay-phone business. The company says the alternative to the price hike would have been to drastically cut the number of pay phones in service.

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