SBC Gets OK on Long Distance

SAN MATEO (07/05/2000) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission recently gave local phone giant SBC Communications Inc. the green light to begin offering long distance service in Texas -- a sign that the walls between local and long distance telecommunications companies are crumbling.

The FCC smiled on SBC's second attempt at long-distance approval because the agency was convinced that the San Antonio-based carrier had made way for competition in its local services market.

The FCC made SBC amend its first long-distance application, requiring the company to prove that it is offering use of its unbundled local loops to competitors -- mostly emerging DSL companies.

For an RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Company) to enter the long-distance pack, it must demonstrate to the FCC that competition is thriving in its own backyard.

The FCC said it was swayed by the fact that in Texas there are 90 companies offering local services.

San Antonio-based SBC is the second RBOC to make a high-profile move into the long-distance space.

SBC's Texas victory followed Bell Atlantic Corp.'s successful move to offer long-distance service in New York. Bell Atlantic is now combined with GTE Corp. as New York, New York-based Verizon Communications.

Independent telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan said the RBOC move into long distance marks the beginning of a new telecommunications era with "any-distance data companies" as its centerpiece.

"Until now, enterprises have had to stitch together a patchwork of companies and technologies to create a corporate network. Now they will be able to get what they want from one company, once all the dust settles," said Kagan, who is based in Atlanta.

Kagan predicted that over the coming months more states will see RBOCS offering long-distance services.

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