NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. said Thursday they will abolish 50,000 public pay telephones that accept IC-embedded phone cards by March 31, 2006.

The two local-call providers said the move was prompted by a sharp decline in the use of public pay phones, especially IC card phones, after a surge in mobile phone users.

The NTT group has been developing and installing IC-card-based public phones since 1999 to fight the mushrooming growth of counterfeit phone cards, which are based on magnetic strips.

The debut of the IC card phone, however, corresponded with the surge in mobile phone users, limiting the need to install IC card phones, NTT group officials said.

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