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US Sprint Goes Into Operation Tuesday

June 30, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ US Sprint hits the ground running Tuesday as the nation’s third-biggest long-distance phone company.

Executives of GTE Corp. and United Telecommunications Inc. signed closing papers Monday creating US Sprint as a 50-50 joint venture. Preparations for the new company had gone on since January.

″We’ve been planning it now for close to six months and we’re obviously delighted to be able to get started,″ Charles Skibo, the executive in charge of sales, said in an interview Monday.

US Sprint is composed of the two parent companies’ long-distance phone units, No. 3-ranked GTE Sprint and No. 5-ranked US Telecom, and their data communications subsidiaries, GTE Telenet and US Telecom Data Communications Co.

Although not mentioned at the briefing, a close examination of the fact sheet distributed to reporters reveals that Sprint President Donald Prigmore is no longer part of what was to be a three-man US Sprint ″Office of the President.″

J. David Hann, who was president of GTE Telenet, part of US Sprint’s new data group, Skibo, former US Telecom president and Prigmore were appointed April 3 as a triumverate to run US Sprint.

″There has been a change in the office of president, but I can’t go beyond that,″ said Agnes McQueen, a spokeswoman at GTE headquarters in Stamford, Conn.

At Sprint’s Burlingame, Calif., headquarters, spokesman Mike Furtney would say only that there would be an explanation later in the week. Asked if there was a change in Prigmore’s employment status with GTE, the would say only, ″Not so far.″

He said the change in the fact sheet was ″a last-minute situation.″

Apparently Prigmore’s biography was pulled from the press kit late last week or over the weekend, US Sprint’s director of corporate communications Sydney E. Courson said from the company’s new headquarters in Shawnee Mission, Kan.

Prigmore did not immediately return a reporter’s phone call.

US Sprint will promote its network of nearly 5,000 miles of optical fibers, hair-thin strands of pure glass that carry voice and data in the form of pulses of laser light. The venture claims to have more fiber optics in place than anyone else, including AT&T.

Both parent companies have been losing money in long-distance, and Skibo declined to say when the joint venture might turn profitable. Some analysts have said the venture could turn a profit as soon as next year.

Skibo said the venture will start life with 4 percent of the market and seek to expand it to 6 to 7 percent by sometime in 1988, and possibly 10 percent by the early 1990s.

American Telephone & Telegraph Co. had 83.2 percent, MCI Corp. 5.6 percent, GTE Sprint 2.3 percent, Satellite Business Systems 1 percent and US Telecom 0.7 percent of the so-called inter-LATA long-distance market last year, according to Glenn Powers, an analyst for market research Northern Business Information in New York.

Powers said all the companies have gained market share since then at the expense of AT&T. But analysts say AT&T has nevertheless done far better than most people expected in hanging onto its long-distance customers.

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