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Once means of transmitting payment were developed, phone sex turned into primarily a commercial activity, with customers (overwhelmingly male) and sellers (overwhelmingly female).
(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.
Verizon provided billing services to calls made in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
AT&T and MCI offered nationwide collection services, with a cap of per call.
The vast majority of modern services in the United States use toll-free numbers whereby clients can dial up to request a call with a particular performer using credit cards, Automated Clearing House systems, and a variety of other billing methods.
There are still some services that rely upon premium-rate telephone numbers (e.g., 976 and 900 numbers) for billing purposes, although this practice has been largely abandoned due to the high rate of fraud associated with these lines and the inability to dial 900 and 976 lines from cellular phones.