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Bell Atlantic asks to exit business of pay-per-call Phone services

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic Corp. no longer wants to be a consenting party to phone sex -- or any other information service, for that matter.

The New York-based phone company is asking state regulators for permission to stop providing billing and connections to the pay-per-call industry. That includes 976 lines and other exchanges that provide phone sex, time and temperature and other information for a fee.

Bell Atlantic connects such calls and provides billing for about 1,000 lines with 976, 970, 540 or 550 phone numbers in New York. Independent companies provide voice-recorded or interactive information and pay the phone company a fee to handle the transport and billing. Customers may block such calls from their phones.

It's not a sense of Puritanism that's driving Bell Atlantic out of the business. The company says it's too cheap a thrill, that 976 lines are not a growing business compared with the Internet, pay-per-view cable and other services.

Pub Date: 12/31/98

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