by Stephanie Overby

High-Tech Telephone/Internet Booths

Sep 15, 20012 mins
Consumer Electronics

With pay phone usage on the decline in the United States (see “Superman’s Locker Room,” Trendlines, June 1, 2001), telecommunications companies are looking for new ways to spruce up?and make money on?the old sidewalk standby.

New York City-based AT&T has unveiled public telephones that combine high-speed Internet connections and e-mail access with voice calling. The Public Phone 2000i, which includes a 12-inch touch-screen, keyboard and touch mouse pad, will replace some of AT&T’s existing phone booths in airports, resorts and conference centers. The company has already installed 90 new phones at airports in Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, Newark, N.J., and New York City. The fee to use the 2000i is25 cents per minute, with a four-minute minimum.

The nascent market for Internet access terminals and limited-functionality Web phones, which stood at $33.6 million in 1999, could grow to $1.4 billion by 2006, according to San Jose, Calif.-based consultancy Frost & Sullivan. AT&T says one source of its revenue from the Public Phone 2000i will be advertising space on its video screens, which can change the ads it displays according to time of day, vertical market or holiday season. When an ad is touched or clicked, the user connects to the advertiser’s website for free.

AT&T is also installing 600 public phones at John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports that will provide a data port and voice calling.