SBC Offers Long Distance

    GRAND RAPIDS — SBC Communications Inc. today, acting just days after receiving approval from federal regulators, launched long-distance telephone service in Michigan.

    SBC unveiled a variety of telecommunications packages that bundle local, long-distance, data and Internet services for residential and business customers.

    “Long distance expands our product portfolio and allows us to offer customers a powerful range of communications solutions that no competitors in the market can surpass,” said Ray Wilkins, president of marketing and sales for the San Antonio, Texas-based SBC.

    SBC’s entry into the long-distance market in Michigan puts it into direct competition for the service with fellow telecom giants AT&T and MCI, which recently entered the market for local phone service.

    Today’s announcement comes nine days after the Federal Communications Commission, after concluding the market for local phone service has been opened for competition, approved SBC’s long-distance bid.

    Federal law requires the Baby Bells like SBC to prove they have opened previously monopolized markets to competition before they may enter long distance markets by leasing space on their telecommunications networks to companies offering a competing local phone service.

    Competitors who lease space on SBC’s network now worry that the company will use its long-distance entry, combined with a pending request to state regulators to more than double the wholesale rate it charges competitors to lease network space, to hinder competition.

    “The danger, of course, is that SBC, while talking the talk about competition, will continue to walk the walk of re-monopolization,” Dave Waymire, a spokesman for the Michigan Alliance for Competitive Telecommunications, wrote today in an e-mail to news media around the state.           

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