Sponsored By

The Payphone Industry and the InternetThe Payphone Industry and the Internet

Channel Partners

April 1, 1998

6 Min Read
The Payphone Industry and the Internet

Posted: 04/1998

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
goes on.

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

Government Sites

  • 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  

Vendor Sites

Manufacturer Sites

  • 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

Locating Sites

IPP Sites

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
(800) 213-6754.

Read more about:

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like