Cellular One may offer long distance Parent firm SBC seeks to capitalize on name

September 20, 1996|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,SUN STAFF

Cellular One may begin by the end of the year to offer long-distance service over noncellular phones, the parent company of the Greenbelt-based firm said yesterday.

SBC Communications Inc. of San Antonio, which owns Southwestern Bell, said its entry into the long-distance market under the Cellular One name is a bid to capitalize on the reputation the cellular company has built in parts of the nation where Southwestern Bell is nearly unknown.

"We're going to focus a lot of efforts on building this and on speaking to customers who understand what the brand name means," SBC spokesman Andy Craig said. The company's announcement said 70 percent of consumers want the option to buy all of their telecommunications services from one company, even though the services often are nearly identical no matter which company supplies them.

The company said it will ask for regulators' permission to sell long distance in eight states, all outside the region where it is the dominant long-distance carrier. It is the second Bell operating company from outside this region -- Ameritech Corp. of Chicago was the first -- to seek permission to sell long-distance services in Maryland.

None of the traditional local phone monopolies may sell long-distance service in its home region until it complies with the telecommunications reform law President Clinton signed in February. The law requires monopolies to show they have opened the local phone service industry to meaningful competition before they can enter the long-distance business.

Pub Date: 9/20/96

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