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October 1, 1999
Off the Wall
A Roundup of Cool Public Communications Stuff
A payphone is a payphone is a payphone. Well
… not anymore. We’ve found some pretty cool new payphone stuff. Take a look at this
"off-the-wall" product roundup.
Coke ‘n’ Call On Trial
Telstra Corp., Sydney,
Australia, and Coca Cola Amatil (CCA) joined together to satisfy customers’ thirst and
need to reach out and call someone with a trial of the joint payphone and soft drink
vending facility, the Telstra Payphone Refreshment Booth.
After the unit is tested for several months in Cabramatta, a decision will be made
regarding deployment of additional units in other areas of Australia.
The booth incorporates two payphones and a soft drink vending machine dispatching
600-milliliter bottles. Customers may pay for soft drinks and phone calls using coins or
the Telstra Smart Phonecard, the company’s prepaid card, which is available in US$3, $6,
$12 and $30 increments.
Telstra and CCA developed the unusual pairing to provide greater availability of
products and services to customers, says John Stanton, managing director, Telstra Payphone
& Card Services. "We have seen a growing use of Telstra Smart Phonecards in both
payphone and vending transactions. The booth is a natural and innovative solution for
customers who want greater convenience and availability of our products when out and
Additionally, the two companies expect to save money by sharing the cost for site
selection, building, installation and maintenance of the machine.
CCA National Vending Manager Gavin Hancock says both CCA and Telstra anticipate the
booth to be popular, particularly among the younger clientele. "Both Coca Cola
Vending and Telstra Smartcards share significant common ground as market leaders with a
strong brand presence and appeal, and we look forward to the results of this
ground-breaking trial," he says.
Here’s one for the
"road warriors." It’s not really a payphone, but an anti-payphone. After two
years and $4 million in research and development, Imagitel, Houston, has developed a
patent-pending, portable, fold-up phone that plugs into any standard phone jack. It’s not
a cellular phone, but a lightweight, compact phone that lets users access long distance
service from anywhere with no extra digits to dial.
On the road, the business version of the unit, known as the Travel Warrior, places long
distance calls exactly as if the user were at his/her office. There is no need to dial
access numbers or personal identification numbers (PINs).
The Travel Warrior is 5 inches long and weighs 6 ounces for easy toting. It plugs into
any phone jack or data port and provides built-in 12-number speed-dial memory as well as
one-touch redial. Imagitel’s Virtual Assistant adds fax, voice mail, conference calling
and pager routing.
A residential version called the Millennium phone is available as well, eliminating the
need for dialing 10-10 or 1-800 numbers to access low-cost long distance. It also can be
programmed for prepaid long distance, making it a possible solution for budget-conscious
users or for family members away at college.
The phones are offered free with a one-time $35 equipment deposit.
Global Coin Calling
Carrollton, Texas, has redesigned its SmartGlobe calling service for its ASTRATEL 2 and
UltraTel with Intelli*Star payphones. The service enables independent payphone providers
to offer coin or calling card international calls. The switch provides least-cost routing
(LCR), call status/answer supervision, creates billing records for noncoin calls and
periodically performs anti-tapping tests.
The service allows independent payphone providers (IPPs) to enable users to call Mexico
for three minutes, for example, for $2 in coins.
SmartGlobe uses technology similar to Intellicall’s popular Intelli*Star
store-and-forward service. International calls are routed to the SmartGlobe platform
rather than directed to an international carrier. No expensive changes to primary
interexchange carrier (PIC) codes are required and IPP subscribers are billed for the
Out of this World
Public access terminal
maker Landis & Gyr Communications, Geneva, and satellite equipment manufacturer Nera
SatCom AS, Billingstad, Norway, jointly have developed a satellite payphone solution. The
new payphone is suited to people and organizations that operate in remote areas where
traditional telecommunications services is severely restricted or nonexistent.
The unit is ideal for a range of applications, such as commercial and cruise ships,
off-shore drilling rigs, planes, mining sites, mountain passes and other outdoor
installations. The first units produced, earlier this year, were installed on oil rigs.
To eliminate coin-collection requirements, the satellite phone relies on Landis &
Gyr Communications’ Pulsar chip card payphone connected to the Inmarsat network via a Nera
AS transceiver. By inserting a prepaid chip card, the user can make a call to any part of
the world. The prepaid card is debited according to the internal tariff installed in the
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