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AT&T Seeks to Lower Long-Distance Rates

November 18, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — American Telephone & Telegraph Co. proposed Tuesday to lower its interstate long-distance rates by an average of 3.6% to reflect reduced costs in connecting to the local telephone network.

The largest decrease--6.3%--would be seen in daytime prices "because of the need to make those rates more competitive," AT&T said.

Rates for calls made during evening hours would drop 2.2%, and calls made during the late night and weekends would be cut by 0.8%, the company said.

The rate reductions would take effect Jan. 1, if they are approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

Reacting to the proposed price cuts, MCI Communications Corp. and US Sprint Communications, the nation's second-largest and third-largest long-distance companies respectively, said their response would depend on what the FCC finally approves, but both said they intended to remain competitive with AT&T.

AT&T, the nation's largest long-distance company, proposed to the FCC that its rates drop as much as $800 million, but AT&T said the exact amount will depend on the access charges the FCC allows the local telephone companies to collect from long-distance carriers, which must pay the fees to hook into local networks.

AT&T has challenged the new access rates filed by the regional Bell operating companies, contending that they are more than $1 billion too high.

In proposing its new rates, the long-distance leader told the FCC that it expects local companies' access fees to fall by at least $200 million--which would amount to an average rate reduction of less than 1%. But the company said it believes that the FCC will order an additional $600 million in reductions based on AT&T's challenge.

"We're confident the FCC will recognize that access charges filed by the local telephone companies need to be substantially reduced, which would mean more savings for our customers," said Larry Garfinkel, AT&T vice president for marketing.

He said the company filed its proposed rates based on disputed charges because "we wanted to let the public react."

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