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AT&T Will Help Customers Access Other Carriers If Outage Hits Again

January 23, 1990

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ AT&T operators will provide access codes for rival telephone companies if another serious outage cripples long-distance service, the company announced.

American Telephone & Telegraph Co., the country’s largest long-distance carrier, was criticized because its operators did not give out access codes for other carriers during a Jan. 15 breakdown that affected customers nationwide.

Residential and most business customers are able to use any long-distance company, but they must dial a five-digit access code to use a carrier other than the one assigned to a particular telephone.

″We regret that at the start of last week’s service disruption AT&T operators were unable to help customers because we did not have adequate procedures in place for such an unprecedented situation,″ AT&T chairman Robert Allen said Monday.

AT&T said its operators will now provide another carrier’s access code if they have the information, and if they don’t, they will refer customers to local telephone directories.

AT&T has about 70 percent of the long distance market in the United States. MCI Communications Corp. is second with about 12 percent, US Sprint is third with about 8 percent, and about 700 other long distance carriers control the rest of the market.

Each company has its own access code. The code for MCI is 10222; US Sprint is 10333; and AT&T is 10288.

AT&T spokesman Harry Baumgartner told The Associated Press during the weekend that the company was considering a mutual-aid agreement with its two top rivals.

But another AT&T spokesman, Walter Murphy, said Monday the company had not discussed such a plan and that there were no plans to do so. He said the company would consider a number of options, but he refused to say whether or not it included a so-called mutual-aid agreement.

Spokesmen for MCI and US Sprint told the AP last week that they would welcome discussing a mutual aid agreement.

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