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By D Magazine |

Just to show you how competitive the taxi business is becoming in Dallas, Yellow Cab of Dallas is installing cellular mobile pay phones in about 30 of its cabs and Surtran taxis.

Yellow Cab president Karl Kuhlman and local businessman Jeff Snoyer say that their new business, TAXIFONE Inc., will install the telephones and will use Southwestern Bell’s cellular phone system. If the telephones are popular enough, the taxi company hopes to put them in each of its 600 cabs.

The most unique aspect of the system is that passengers can charge their phone calls, car fare and cab driver’s tip on their American Express, MasterCard or VISA credit card. At present, local calls cost 60 cents per minute, and metro lines allow access to the entire Metroplex. AT&T- and MCI-type phone billing cards can also be used for long-distance calling.

How will you know which cabs have telephones? The cabs will be marked with special “VIP Cab” antenna flags and window stickers.

If you think your telephone bill is high, be glad you don’t have to pay the telephone rates in Rockwall.

Larry Schnieders, Southwestern Bell’s representative in Austin, says that Rockwall residents who use an “FX” (“foreign exchange”) service so that they can make calls to and from Dallas without having to pay long-distance rates must pay a monthly user fee of $45.51. In addition to that, if a customer lives 7 miles or less from the central station, he pays $20.50 for a two-way connection. But if he lives more than 7 miles from the central station, he pays $78.

Rockwall residents whose businesses depend on telephone service have an expensive problem. As a result, Rock-wall has petitioned the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to ask Southwestern Bell to give the town “EAS” (“extended area service”). That would allow long-distance calling at local rates, similar to having a metro number. The only drawback is that installing the lines for the service is expensive, and Southwestern Bell wants to know who’s going to pay for the service: Rockwall residents or all Bell customers in the Metro-plex?

A good guess is that Rock-wall residents will be footing the bill. The City of Dallas has made it clear to both Bell and the PUC that it doesn’t like the idea of Rockwall pushing Dallas residents into a higher telephone rate bracket.

Before any progress is made, Bell official Jim Lydon says that Rockwall residents will be surveyed to find out how many potential customers the EAS service would have. The surveys will be used as evidence when the PUC finally makes its decision sometime this year.

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