AT&T Co is chasing after British Telecommunications Plc and its Syncordia Corp initiative at breakneck speed with its WorldSource seamless telecommunications service for multinationals and its WorldPartners Association of supporting phone companies (CI No 2,176). So far only Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co and Singapore Telecom have signed up as WorldPartners, but Unitel Communications Inc of […]
AT&T Co is chasing after British Telecommunications Plc and its Syncordia Corp initiative at breakneck speed with its WorldSource seamless telecommunications service for multinationals and its WorldPartners Association of supporting phone companies (CI No 2,176). So far only Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co and Singapore Telecom have signed up as WorldPartners, but Unitel Communications Inc of Toronto, Canada says it has agreed to become a member and Korea Telecom and Australian long-distance company Telstra Pty Ltd also plan to join the venture. It is open to additional carriers that meet criteria set by AT&T, which is particularly keen to win support from some Europeans and is no doubt knocking hard on the door of Unisource BV, the joint venture between Sweden’s Televerket and Koninklijke PTT Telecom Nederland NV, which so far has proved the most successful among such ventures – and already has loose links with both AT&T and Kokusai Denshin in Eastern Europe and points further east. Least successful so far in winning customers has been the Eucom joint venture between France Telecom and the Deutsche Bundespost Telekom, but even they may well be welcomed as WorldPartners by AT&T, despite the heavy whiff of state bureaucracy that hangs over both of them. AT&T says it has plans to expand the service to nine European countries in 1994 and plans to invest $350m over five years to deliver the services but may spend less if it can form ventures. To start with, WorldSource will simply enable a multinational to call its offices abroad more easily by eliminating technical disparities that arise when more than one carrier is needed to complete a call. It will also provide a single bill in a single currency of their choice.
Virtual network services
AT&T says it expects several hundred of its 11m million business customers in the US to express interest in the new services in the first year or so – but will that interest be turned into contracts? It does already have PaineWebber Inc, United Parcel Service, Unisys Corp, Motorola Inc, Honeywell Inc, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co and LSI Logic Corp signed up. The service will initially be available only across North America and the Far East – the company is promising a family of customised business communications services. The company plans virtual network services for speech and data communications, highly reliable private line services for data or speech, voice, and Frame Relay service for high-speed data transmission. The WorldPartners association will be headquartered in New York, and AT&T, Kokusai Denshin Denwa and Singapore Telecom also agreed to create an operating organisation within WorldPartners to provide a range of support capabilities for association members, including clearing house functions for billing, ordering, provisioning, maintenance and customer support. In Europe, AT&T plans to add to its existing network management centres here in the UK and in the Netherlands by installing systems in key European commercial centres to provide the service for multinational customers in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden, and plans to hire or redeploy more than 650 technicians and sales personnel in Europe to provide customer support for the new services that are to be available in 1994.