April 1, 1998
By Bob Lane
The independent payphone industry and the Internet came into being about the same time.
In the early years the Internet was not considered a tool of commerce, especially by most
independent payphone providers (IPPs).
Today, however, the Internet slowly but surely is exerting its forces on the payphone
industry. And it is evident to many that the payphone industry has not been a particularly
willing participant as it is dragged, kicking and scratching, toward the 21st century.
After all, in the age of the 56K modem, most payphones still use 1,200 bits per second
(bps) modems and some run at an unbelievably slow 300bps.
Nonetheless, the payphone industry is making some progress as a presence in cyberspace.
Its presence, however, begs some questions:
How much of the information and opportunity relating to payphones is hype? I say a lot,
and that’s just an estimate.
How much of it is useless or just a waste of time? A lot.
What about dishonest opportunists? Are they lurking on the Internet, waiting for the
chance to separate us from our hard-earned money? Yes, of course they are.
However, for the prudent web surfer there is a wealth of good, useful information and
opportunity waiting to be unearthed with a few clicks of a mouse. That useful information
and opportunity translates into real business benefits for IPPs, vendors and others who
have seen the sense in using the Internet as a resource.
From my experiences running payphone-related businesses and commercial activities
(which include http://www.payphones-usa.com
and http://www.telefone.com) , I have
benefited directly from information and contacts I have found on the Internet.
Finding payphone-related websites is a snap: Just type the word payphone (or payphones)
into the form of your favorite search engine and you are likely to come up with a bunch of
websites promoting everything from payphone consulting, investments in existing payphone
operations, equipment, services and free or paid classified ads to locations. And the list
It is virtually impossible to mention every website that may be of interest to the
payphone industry. The following is a small sample of the payphone-related websites that
are as close as a few clicks of your mouse :
General Industry Sites
Payphones-USA offers a lot to IPPs, to industry vendors and to those who aspire to own payphone operations. Payphone consulting, payphone frequently asked questions (FAQs), all free classified ads, payphone equipment and services and business opportunities are available at the site, located at http://www.payphones-usa.com
Comtech Abq…..Phil offers payphone programming, payphone equipment, operator services and more at http://www.comtechabq.com
Telefone.com is a payphone industry resource for classified ads, consulting and business opportunities at http://www.telefone.com
Payphone Investment Sites
U.S. Paytel "America’s Choice" was the only one I could find. An impressive site offering payphone related investments at http://www.uspaytel.com
The Federal Trade Commission’s "Operation Missed Fortune" site features some payphone and telecommunications scams. Address for this site is http://www.ftc.gov/opa/9611/misdfortlst.htm
The Federal Communications Commis-sion’s (FCC’s) site includes everything a person ever wanted to know about dial-around compensation and more. This site offers some tedious reading, but it is a good way to keep up with the government’s viewpoint on the independent payphone industry (as well as every other aspect of interstate communications and telecommunications in the United States). The site is located at http://www.fcc.gov
Here’s a site (it isn’t actually a government-sponsored site) where complaints from payphone customers can be forwarded to the FCC regarding payphones that violate federal laws at http://www.panix.com/~lan/phone/file.html
Big Business Sites
Bell Atlantic (NYNEX) is one of the big competitors of IPPs (and one of the major sources of dial tone for IPPs, as well). To check out what the competition is up to, look up http://www.bellatlantic.com
AT&T offers long distance services and a whole lot more. The former "Ma Bell" most certainly makes its presence known (one way or another) to IPPs. Its website can be located at http://www.att.com
Telstra is the payphone provider "down under" (in Australia). Its website is located at http://www.telstra.com.au/prod-ser/payphone/intro.html
Personal Payphone Sites
How about a website dedicated entirely to one man’s effort to sell what appears to be a beautiful, old, wooden phone booth complete with an old-fashioned payphone? Take a look at http://pw2.netcom.com/~davidguy/phone.html
Newday International Trading, located in Luxembourg, specializes in the sale, distribution and operation of credit card-activated payphones. Its site is located at http://www.credi.com
Alpine Communications offers payphone installation, maintenance and service throughout the Midwest. Its web address is http://www.alpinetelecom.com
Payphone Connection is a distributor of Protel payphone equipment and enclosures, located at http://www.payphoneconnection.com
Enclosures Inc. offers enclosures, payphones, calling cards and accessories at: http://www.enclosuresinc.com
Communication Connection Payphones buys, sells and services payphones. Its website is located at http://www.commconnection.com
Allstate Telecom provides sales, service and repairs. Check out the company at http://www.allstate-telecom.com
Elcotel Inc.’s website says, "Elcotel designs, develops, manufactures and services the world’s finest pay telephone systems." Its site is located at http://www.elcotel.com
Protel Inc. manufactures and sells payphones, prepaid cards and public communications items at http://www.protelinc.com
Walker Equipment purports to be the "World leader in communication handsets." It’s possible to see exactly what it manufactures just by looking at the website at http://www.handset.com
Acoustics Development Corp. manufactures payphone enclosures. Check out the company’s website at http://www.adconet.com
Absolu says it is the creator of the world’s first multimedia payphone. Its website is located at http://www.absolu.com
Northern Telecom (Nortel) provides information on the Nortel Millenium payphone at http://www.nortel.com/home
Intellicall Inc. is a manufacturer of intelligent payphones and a service provider to the payphone industry. Its website is located at http://www.intellicall.com
Tatung Telecom Corp.’s product portfolio includes electronic coin payphones, IC-card telephones, cellular payphones, UNIX-based network management systems and the GoLink digital cordless communication system. Its website can be located at http://www.tatungtel.com
Phonetel Communications Inc. is a huge IPP. Its website can be located at http://www.phonetel.com
AmeriCall offers pay telephones, operator services and some other things at http://www.coincall.com
Lane Communications Co. is a modestly sized, yet well-groomed IPP at http://www.payphones-usa.com/foneserv.htm
Well, I hope I’ve inspired a few "payphone people" to give the Internet a
try. Using reasonable caution and good judgment when doing business on the Internet can
help anyone benefit from this growing business venue.
Those involved in the payphone industry that have surfed a few of these sites may find
themselves tempted to build a website of their own. By all means, do it! There is nothing
to lose and everything to gain. Remember, however, that to be truly successful on the
Internet a company may have to commit considerable resources to introducing its web page
to the "search engines" that direct web surfers to the sites that interest them.
By keeping its expectations reasonable, a company can enjoy the pride of ownership it can
experience with its own website.
Bob Lane is the owner of http://www.payphones-usa.com
(Payphones-USA) and http://www.telefone.com
(Telefone.com). He is the owner of Lane Communications Co. (a payphone company in
Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.) and the vice president of the Atlantic Payphone
Association. Additionally, he is the CEO of Payphone Consultants. He can be reached at
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