Pay phone may lose access to toll-free calls 800-number owners face fees under deregulation, FCC rules

For decades, Americans have assumed, correctly, that they could call 800 telephone numbers free, any time and from any telephone. But as a result of federal telecommunications deregulation, consumers may soon find they are unable to call some toll-free numbers from pay phones.

In a little-noticed move that could cost American consumers and businesses almost $1 billion a year, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in October that owners of toll-free numbers must pay a fee of 28.4 cents