The Supreme Court agreed Jan. 4 to rule on an appeal by Sprint Nextel Corp. and AT&T Inc. in a dispute over how much pay-phone operators should be compensated for coinless long-distance calls.

The two telecom giants have asked the Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit filed by several companies, known as “aggregators,” on behalf of approximately 1,400 small pay-phone operators. Lawyers for Sprint and AT&T argue that the aggregators don’t have the right to sue because they don’t have a sufficient interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.