The turmoil in the Soviet Union shows the value placed on international communications. AT&T wants the government to open additional satellite capacity to help unsnarl telephone traffic between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Some highlights:
* CONTROL. The Federal Communications Commission controls access to satellite traffic.
* CALLS. AT&T says call volume to the Soviet Union is about 25 times above average, about 13,000 calls an hour. In the days immediately following the coup attempt, calls to the Soviet Union were nearly 100 times normal.
* GETTING THROUGH. Even under normal calling volume, only about one in 10 calls from the U.S. to the Soviet Union gets through.
* THE SATELLITES. Calls to the Soviet Union are carried on 12 cable circuits and either on Intelsat, an American-owned satellite, or, as of last week, on the Soviet Intersputnik satellite system. A total of 115 circuits are now available. Last week, the FCC allowed AT&T and IDB Telecommunications Services of Los Angeles to each use 24 circuits on Intersputnik. AT&T started on Aug. 31; IDB will begin using the system in October.
* THE NEW REQUEST. AT&T wants an additional 42 circuits on Intersputnik.
* OTHER COMPANIES. MCI Communications completes calls to the Soviet Union either by routing them through other countries or turning them over to AT&T. US Sprint has authority to operate 12 circuits on Intelsat, but completes calls to the Soviet Union through AT&T.