Calls Made from Payphones

Information from the FCC

Background on Payphone Calls - Regulation and Deregulation

Coin rates for all local calls made from payphones are not subject to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation.  Prior to 1996, most payphones were provided by local telephone companies and paid for by monies they received from consumers for other types of services.  States regulated the coin rate for a local call.  The resulting artificially low prices tended to discourage new companies from entering the payphone market and also limited the number of payphones available for the public.

In 1996, in order to encourage competition and the greater availability of payphones, Congress required that payphones no longer be regulated.  The FCC determined that deregulating local coin rates and allowing the marketplace to set the price of local payphone calls was an essential step needed to achieve the goals set by Congress.

Deregulation allowed payphone service providers to receive fait compensation for their services and encouraged the widespread placement of payphones.  The FCC also anticipated that deregulation would provide Americans with greater access to emergency and public safety services.  States may choose to place public interest payphones in areas where payphones are necessary for health and safety reasons.

Numerous states continue to regulate the rates for local collect calls.  Check with the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control or your local phone company for rates in your area.

Emergency and Toll-Free Calls

Calls made to emergency numbers, such as 911, and local calls to Telecommunications Relay Services -- a service that enables calls to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled -- are free of charge at payphones.  You can also continue to reach an operator without depositing a coin.

Toll-free calls, including calls billed to calling cards or credit cards, also do not require a coin.  The Communications Act, however, requires the FCC to establish a per-call compensation plan to ensure that all payphone service providers are fairly compensated for every completed intrastate and interstate call using their payphones -- except for emergency calls.  The 800 number subscriber, calling card service or credit card company generally pays this compensation, but this amount may be reflected in the user charges of the 800 number subscriber, calling card service or credit card company.

For further information, contact the FCC:
     the Internet
     telephone    1-888-225-5322
     TTY    1-888-835-5322
     mail   Federal Communications Commission
               Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
               Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
               445 12th Street, SW
               Washington, DC 20554