Last pay phones might leave Key West
Feb 09, 2013 (Florida Keys Keynoter - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Key West City Commission is considering getting rid of one of the last vestiges of the days when cell phones didn't exist: Pay phones.
At the commissioners' meeting Tuesday, City Manager Bob Vitas, who had been asked to look into the issue by Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, said a contract with First American Telecommunications to operate 22 pay phones scattered around city streets had expired.
"Will we continue to keep these phones " he asked. "We're going to take a close look at their use. If there's a place they're being heavily used, they would probably remain, but if there are places they're not being used, it's just another obstruction in the right of way we might consider removing."
First American has held the pay-phone contract, worth around $6,000 per year, since 2003, when Bell South pulled out of the market. At the time, there were around 100 pay phones on city streets.
Now the majority of the phones are on Duval Street and its cross streets, and on North and South Roosevelt boulevards.
The issue was last broached in 2008 when commissioners were similarly poised to get rid of the phones. But First American made the case that in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane, cell phones will often fail, making pay phones the only line of communication available.
There was a period of time when the call revenue for the company had a spike: Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
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