Typically the telephone companies would bill callers to chat lines and then remit 45% of the money collected to chat line operators.

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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 $50 per call.

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.

Nevertheless, phone sex should not be confused with prostitution wherein money is exchanged for real life sexual services or physical interaction.

The editor of High Society magazine, Gloria Leonard, is credited with being one of the first people to use "976 numbers", then "900 numbers" for promotional purposes and soon as a revenue stream in the adult industry.

The provider provided (say) 10 minutes of service, but got to keep all of the money (say 20 minutes).

When the Internet got relatively mature, sale of any sexual service not involving a minor could be made to anyone not a minor.

Phone sex is a conversation between two or more people on the phone where one or more of the individuals is describing the act of sex.