Bell testing Internet kiosks
(Cincinnati Enquirer; 08/05/98)
Cincinnati Bell Telephone on Tuesday unveiled its version of pay phones for
the information superhighway for a trial run in the Tristate.
The company has installed the first of four interactive kiosks that provide
customers remote access to the Internet, electronic mail and online services
such as America Online with the swipe of a credit card or insertion of U.S.
The first four are at the University of Cincinnati's Tangeman Center, the
Drawbridge Inn coffee shop in Northern Kentucky, the Greyhound Bus Terminal in
downtown Cincinnati and at the Trucks of America Truck Stop in Cambridge, Ind.
The company is also negotiating to install terminals at the Cincinnati -
Northern Kentucky International Airport, area hotels and the convention center.
Bell said it thinks that it is the second local phone company in the country
to deploy the Windows NT-based computer terminals produced by Texas-based
Paynet Communications. Bell is conducting a three-month trial of the terminals,
which, if successful, could someday make them as prevalent as pay phones.
"Over the next couple years, we could deploy 500 of the units over a five-
state region," said Deborah Freese, Cincinnati Bell Telephone product manager.
Bell has about 700 pay phones in a five-state region outside its Tristate
local telephone service area.
The computer terminals allow customers to send and receive e-mail by
entering their e-mail address and log-in ID. Users can save work by inserting a
floppy disk or printing it on a thermal printer attached to the kiosk.
The cost is 25 cents a minute, with a minimum of four minutes. The charge
starts from the time the connection is made to the computer server.
The touch-sensitive computer terminals, slightly larger than a typical pay
phone, accept all major credit cards and U.S. currency in $1, $5, $10 and $20
Ms. Freese said the company hopes to soon offer a debit card that customers
could use to access the terminals as well as purchase other Cincinnati Bell
services, such as long-distance access.
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