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Originally phone sex services consisted of a managed network of dispatchers (live or automated) and erotic performers.
Performers would come to a studio where they received a cubicle, coaching, and cash incentives to keep callers on the line longer.
Originally, per-minute billing was provided by phone companies (in the U. There was, from some services, an attempt to keep the caller aroused but short of orgasm, so he would spend more money.
(This attitude still survives among some providers.) When public (mostly female) pressure forced the phone companies to stop providing this service to sex workers, a transition was made to a manual method: pre-paid blocks of time, 10, 30, 60 minutes, whatever the customer would pay for.
Typically the telephone companies would bill callers to chat lines and then remit 45% of the money collected to chat line operators.
The telephone companies placed the chat line charges on a customer's local phone bill.
Nevertheless, phone sex should not be confused with prostitution wherein money is exchanged for real life sexual services or physical interaction.
By 2007 only Verizon, Sprint and AT&T remained in the chat line business in the U. By 2007 Verizon and MCI had merged and only a few chat line companies remained active as a result.
With the progress of technology it became more practical, convenient, and economical for providers to work out of their homes.
Human dispatchers — female, except for gay male phone sex — answered the advertised phone numbers, processed payment via credit card, chose who of the available performers in the dispatcher's judgment best matched the clients' fantasy (grandma, black girl, college girl, etc.), and connected the client with the provider. Either could hang up, though some services put economic pressure on providers not to do so.
By the end of the 1980s, nearly all of the major local phone companies in the United States, plus the major long distance carriers, were actively involved in the adult chat line business.
The telephone companies would provide billing services for chat line companies.