AT&T getting out of pay phone business

US giant AT&T will exit the rapidly shrinking pay phone business by the end of next year, before it becomes unprofitable, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report further quoted the company as saying that it will sell 65,000 pay phones, in prisons and in public places, within its original 13-state area before the end of 2008.

AT&T decided to leave pay phones, a tiny portion of the telecommunications company that has 67.3 million wireless subscribers, before they reached the point of being unprofitable, , said spokesman Michael Coe.

The Associated Press report said AT&T officials will try to sell as many of the pay phones to independent operators as possible; those that are unsold will be removed.

The pool of pay phones nationwide has shrunk from 2.6 million to 1 million in the last decade. AT&T had roughly 400,000 pay phones in 1998, but it has seen a rapid decline in the business since then, the report said.

BellSouth, which AT&T acquired at the end of 2006, already exited the business, as has Qwest Communications International, it added.