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Terminology Related to Pay Telephones

Pay telephones were once very popular, though in some areas they are now seen as almost antiques since cell phones have exploded onto the market. However, due to the fact that many cell phones run out of batteries very quickly, pay phones have seen a resurgence. Pay phones are used in phone booths and are available for public use. To operate the phone the customer must pay, usually with coins, though it might require a larger amount for long distance calls. Below are some common terms used with pay phones.

  • Phone Provider – A business that operates the pay phone. The coin money put into the pay phone goes to the business in exchange for making the telephone call. The provider usually operates on their own telephone network.
  • Phone Card – Some modern pay phones operate using phone cards as well as coins. This saves the individual from having to carry around a collection of coins in their pocket. A certain amount of money is applied to the phone card and then deducted when the user makes a phone call.
  • British Phone Booth – A vintage style of phone booths that is an enclosure made out of glass, metal and sometimes wood. The British phone booth is an enclosure that is painted bright colors, such as red or yellow, to draw attention. Phone booths were created to give privacy to a person's phone calls.
  • Phone kiosk – A more modern example of a phone booth, these are often found in airports. A phone kiosk may lack the privacy of a phone booth, as it usually is a line of phones against a wall available for public use.
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    Pay telephones and booths are becoming a thing of the past. However, they are still used in cities and towns, particularly on main streets or in restaurants. Most people use cell phones nowadays to make phone calls, but some people still need to use public telephones out of necessity. Pay telephones can be attached to walls in restaurants, businesses, schools, train stations, and airports, or they can be located inside booths for privacy. Sometimes there are many pay phones all in a row along a wall or as part of a kiosk for faster service, such as within airport terminals. You put in a set amount of change or a calling card, and you can dial the number you need to reach. You are usually given a set amount of time as well, so you need to either plug the machine after so many minutes, or you can end your call. Some people love antique phone booths. Antique collectors will scour the globe looking for the perfect antique, retro, vintage, novelty, or old school pay telephone booths. Public telephones can be metal or plastic, and usually feature a cord, number pad, international calling instructions, phone book, window, folding door, and call box. Phone booths are cheap and private, giving the caller a chance to speak without being overheard. Sometimes payphones require repair or regular service. For that, you can find providers of pay telephones and booths, equipment and service, by looking in your local phone book or by searching online directory listings. Such companies can service and fix payphones, public telephone kiosks, and even antique equipment. If antiques are your passion, make sure the provider you hire specializes in antique, retro, or novelty payphones and equipment.
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