Remember The Payphone? - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/09/05 - Lufkin

Remember The Payphone?

by Stuart Burson

Many of us remember the days when you always kept some change in your pocket in case you had to use a payphone. Now, it seems payphone use could be well on its way to being a thing of the past. In fact, in case you haven't noticed, a lot of payphones are disappearing.

What used to be seen on every block and at practically every business has now almost become extinct. But why?

"There are several reasons, the primary one is the proliferation of cell phones. It seems like every person has a cell phone, every family two or three and the utilization of public payphones has dropped dramatically in the last several years." says Jim Watkins with Consolidated Communications.

Besides cell phone usage, deregulation has played a part in the disappearance of the payphone.

"When competitors were allowed to come into that space, there were many companies that got into that business. And anytime when you have many competitors you end up eventually with just a few and that's what happened with pay stations."

But, not everyone is ready to leave payphones behind. People who work at one convenience store in Lufkin say business is brisk at their payphone.

"Regardless of the cell phones and everything, they actually still use the payphones, you know. It's a lot of Hispanics actually using the payphones to call down to Mexico, using our calling cards you know, and just local people asking for change to call around here." says Jerry Martinez, an employee at Garcia's Pantry.

While it may not become a museum piece anytime soon, the payphone has definitely seen better days.

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