Using pay telephones to make out-of-state long-distance calls could prove more costly beginning April 1.

That is when a federal court order takes effect giving owners of the property where the pay phone is located the right to select the long-distance company.The ruling is similar to the one in 1978 that deregulated home long-distance telephone service, giving residential customers the right to select from a bevy of long-distance calling providers.

The wary consumer may want to take a moment to read the small print, or in this case, information regarding which company is providing long-distance service from a particular pay phone. Costs may vary substantially, and some companies tack a surcharge onto their billings.

The businesses where pay phones are located could get a windfall out of the deal. The telephone companies offer commissions to the property owners in order to win the service rights. Some companies are offering commissions ranging as high as 19 percent.

Consumers can contact an operator for rate information prior to making a call.