Owning a cell phone is looking more appealing every day.
Following announcements from Qwest Communications International and SBC Communications, Verizon Communications said it will raise the price of public pay phone calls to 50 cents in its territory.
The move comes as wireless services continue to erode the pay phone market. Verizon operates 433,000 pay phones in 33 states, but business has been lagging badly as cell phone use has mushroomed. Use of the public phones has declined 23 percent in the last two years, according to the company.
Verizon also said it will experiment with new 10-cent-per-minute local calls.
"With this low rate, we hope to entice callers back to the pay phone who need to make a quick call," said Paul Francischetti, vice president of marketing and business development for Verizon Public Communications, which operates Verizon pay phones. "And at the same time, the 50-cent price provides a very good value to customers who make longer calls."
Verizon is currently test marketing the 10-cent-per-minute service at specially marked phones at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
Company officials said the initial indicators are positive.