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Verizon Communications Inc. is raising the price of a local pay phone call to 50 cents, up from 35 cents.
Verizon, which serves 33 states, said it has begun converting its 430,000 pay phones to the new price, a process that will take several months. In some states, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and West Virginia, the hike may not take effect until next year, where "market conditions are not right for a price change at this time," the company said in a statement.
The new rate will cover local calls of unlimited length, eliminating timed calling found mostly in New England, where callers paid 35 cents for an initial block of time ranging from three to five minutes and then paid more to talk longer.
The New York-based telecommunications company said it also will increase the price of local directory assistance dialed from pay phones to 50 cents, up from 35 cents in most areas.
Verizon said pay phone use has declined 23 percent in the last two years due to the popularity of cell phones, cutting into profits. Pay phone operators Qwest Communications and SBC Communications raised the prices of local calls to 50 cents earlier this summer.
Later this year, Verizon said it plans to test market 10-cent a minute local calls in certain markets in hopes of attracting pay phone users looking to make a quick call.