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    Pay Phone Prices Dropping?

    Verizon tests 10-cent and 25-cent local calls.


    BOSTON -- Verizon today begins a three-month trial of 10-cent and 25-cent local calls from some pay phones in Boston area. The 10-cent call buys one minute; the 25-cent call buys three minutes.

    This week, the company also launched similar trials in Hampton Roads, Va., and the Tampa Bay, Fla., area.

    About 50 pay phones in the three markets will enable callers to make local calls at the reduced rate. The trial phones, which are located at urban and suburban high schools and on city sidewalks, are adjacent to Verizon pay phones charging the standard 50 cents for a local call of unlimited length.

    "We believe there's a market for short pay phone calls," said Paul Francischetti, vice president of marketing and business development for Verizon Public Communications, which operates Verizon pay phones. "We want to see if this low rate will be attractive to people who need to make a quick call. At the same time, we know the 50-cent call of unlimited length is still a good value for those customers who need to talk longer. The 25-cent, three-minute call splits the difference."

    At each test site, there will be at least one phone with a trial price. The phones will display bright yellow signs that read, "Special Discount Offer." Ten seconds before the end of the one- and three-minute calls, callers will hear a recording letting them know their time is almost up and prompting them to deposit additional coins or end the call.

    Last fall, citing fierce competitive and market pressures and declining revenues in the past three years, Verizon began raising the price of a local pay phone call in most markets nationwide to 50 cents. Until then, the price of a local call at most Verizon pay phones was 35 cents.

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