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AT&T to hang up pay phones by end of 2008

The telecommunications company says the increased popularity of cell phones has prompted the move.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A 129-year era is set to end at AT&T, as the telecommunications giant will exit the pay phone field by the end of next year, the company said in a written statement Monday.

The move affects approximately 65,000 pay phones in the company's traditional 13-state service area. BellSouth, which was acquired by AT&T in late 2006, became the first major phone company to exit the pay phone business in 2001.

AT&T said reduced pay phone usage, coupled with increased popularity of cellular phones and wireless devices, prompted the move.

Senior Vice President David Huntley said the company will work toward a smooth 13-month transition, as both public pay phones and phones provided under contracts at government correctional facilities will be phased out.

AT&T (Charts, Fortune 500) said the number of pay phones in use across the industry has declined by approximately 1.6 million since 1998.

One of the largest remaining pay phone providers is Verizon (Charts, Fortune 500). A company spokesman said Verizon owns about 225,000 pay phones in 29 states and the District of Columbia. To top of page

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