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AT&T TO ENTER COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES MARKET IN UNITED KINGDOM

 WASHINGTON, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- AT&T (NYSE: T) today announced plans to provide communications services in the United Kingdom, and between the United Kingdom and the United States. The company noted that its plans must first be approved by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States.
 AT&T's announcement follows British Telecom North America's (BTNA's) request to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the authority to offer international service between the United States and several other countries, including the United Kingdom.
 AT&T said it would support BTNA's request once AT&T has the same practical access to the U.K. market as that currently sought by BTNA in the U.S. market.
 Also today, AT&T filed comments urging the FCC and the Clinton Administration to withhold approval of BTNA's request until American carriers have comparable access to the British market.
 "AT&T is eager to compete for customers in the United Kingdom on the same terms, and at the same time, that BT can compete for customers in the U.S.," said John Berndt, president of AT&T business services. "When AT&T and other American carriers are given that chance, customers on both sides of the Atlantic will reap the benefits."
 Initially, AT&T would offer U.K. business customers virtual network services and digital private lines for high-speed data and voice communications.
 In addition, AT&T would offer business customers with locations in the United Kingdom and the United States a wide variety of competitively priced, seamless services between the two countries. AT&T also would provide these services between the United Kingdom and Australia, Canada and Sweden, as permitted under U.K. regulation.
 Berndt said the company's greatest challenge in providing these services is the fact that British Telecom effectively controls the local distribution of almost all phone service in the United Kingdom and dominates the U.K. long distance market.
 As a result, in order to terminate calls to customers, would-be competitors not only have to invest substantial time and money in building their own networks, they also have no alternative but to negotiate with BT for access to customers.
 He noted that, by contrast, in the United States, years of pro-competitive regulatory policies have given competitors like BT the opportunity to enter the U.S. market with limited investment, obtaining whatever distribution arrangements they need from a variety of competitive carriers on open and non-discriminatory terms.
 "British Telecom wants the U.S. government to give it a free hand to compete in the U.S., the world's largest telecommunications market," said Berndt.
 "But anyone who wants to compete in the U.K. has to negotiate prices and service terms with BT itself to actually deliver calls to customers' homes and businesses. BT controls competition on its home turf by setting those terms and prices, with little regulatory supervision of the negotiating process."
 FCC approval of BT's request also could adversely affect the U.S. balance of payments, Berndt said.
 Today, U.S. and U.K. carriers pay each other for helping carry calls between the two countries. More calls are made from the United States to the United Kingdom than in the other direction, with the result that U.S. carriers paid BT more than $65 million last year.
 "Now BT is seeking authority to carry its calls to the U.S. over private lines, which would not require BT to pay U.S. carriers," Berndt said.
 "As a result, payments by U.S. carriers to BT could rise to more than $180 million yearly unless U.S. carriers are granted comparable opportunities. In effect, Americans calling the U.K. would be further financing BT's global expansion."
 Today, AT&T also filed comments with the Commerce Department encouraging the U.S. government to develop coordinated policies to stimulate fair competition in the global telecommunications industry.
 AT&T's filing noted that as of 1990, at least six foreign-owned carriers were licensed to provide domestic and international long distance services in the United States. No country in the world has granted American carriers the same opportunities.
 "The U.S. is the industry leader in today's international communications marketplace," Berndt said. "American companies provide a wide range of high-quality, competitively priced communications, computing and information services unmatched anywhere in the world today. But American leadership is now threatened -- not by more innovative competitors, but by political favoritism and protectionism."
 Berndt said AT&T continues to seek expanded relationships with telephone administrations (PTTs) around the world to better serve all of its customers. But he added that where this is not possible, AT&T is committed to serving its customers through other means.
 AT&T, a global computer and communications company, operates the world's largest domestic and international long distance network, and is the industry leader in providing long-distance services for consumers, businesses and government.
 -0- 4/15/93
 /CONTACT: Herb Linnen, 202-457-3933, or home, 202-337-9162; or Cindy Pollard, 201-644-7001, or home, 908-277-1105, both of AT&T/
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CO: AT&T; British Telecom North America ST: New Jersey IN: TLS SU: PDT

GK -- NY020 -- 6094 04/15/93 10:02 EDT
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Date:Apr 15, 1993
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