DENVER - The cost of a call at a pay telephone is going up to 50 cents in most of the West.

Qwest Communications International said Monday its pay phone rates will rise from 35 cents to 50 cents Tuesday.

The company said maintenance costs have been increasing in the last five years, but the popularity of wireless phones, calling cards and toll-free numbers have cut local pay phone use by 50 percent.

Pay telephones in major cities will be switched to the new rate by computer. It will be about three to four months before all 96,000 of Qwest's pay phones in the company's 14-state local-service territory are switched.

Emergency 911 calls will still be free.

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