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Choice In Local Residential Phone Service Offered In Kansas, Missouri And Oklahoma.

Birch Telecom Gives Customers In Three States An Alternative To Southwestern

Bell

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 24 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ --

Many residents in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma will now have the choice in local phone service that the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996 was designed to create.

Birch Telecom announced today it will offer local and long-distance to residential customers in its existing markets throughout the three states, where it has provided service to small and mid-size businesses since 1998.

"Birch is simply responding to the demand for a choice in phone service at peoples' homes," said Dave Scott, Birch president and CEO. "Residential customers are used to having options for their long-distance, but for many, this is the first time they can pick someone other than Southwestern Bell for their local carrier. Plus, Birch gives them both local and long-distance from the same company on the same bill."

According to the Yankee Group, a global leader in technology and communications research, more than 80 percent of U.S. households interested in a single provider for multiple services identify local and long-distance as top priorities. Seventy percent of those households listed consolidated billing as the primary reason, a feature Birch offers at no additional charge.

"Plus, there's no charge to switch, your phone number and listings stay the same, and our local service packages always cost less than the same services from Southwestern Bell," said Jeff Shackelford, senior vice president of sales and customer operations.

Customers can choose from two local packages -- Birch Basic, which includes seven popular features with your basic line, or for just $2 more, Birch Premium Upgrade, which includes all of the features in Birch Basic, plus six more. There are also two long-distance options -- 7 cents a minute with a $4 monthly fee, or 9.5 cents a minute with no recurring charge.

Scott, who co-founded Birch in 1997 with Shackelford, a former Sprint colleague, is excited about bringing Birch and its simplified billing and discounts into customers' homes.

"Our success to date has been achieved by catering to the often-underserved small business segment with customer-friendly telecommunications solutions, and we think customers will embrace the same commitment to simplicity and service in their homes," Scott said.

In a little more than three years, Birch has grown to be more than 230,000 lines strong.

The company's new residential customers will be served using the unbundled network element platform. UNE-P enables the company to lease network elements from Southwestern Bell, package them into customized, Birch-branded services, and then offer them to customers at discounts.

Congress made it possible for companies like Birch to exist by passing the Telecommunications Act of 1996, requiring the regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs), in this case Southwestern Bell, to open their local networks to competitors.

Now, after four years of empowering business customers to "fire Southwestern Bell," the company is giving residential customers the same opportunity.

Cities where Birch provides service

Kansas

-- Dodge City

-- Emporia

-- Garden City

-- Hutchinson

-- Kansas City metro area

-- Lawrence

-- Manhattan

-- Salina

-- Topeka

-- Wichita

Missouri

-- Kansas City metro area

-- St. Louis metro area

Oklahoma

-- Oklahoma City

-- Tulsa

About Birch

Birch has become one of the leading competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) in the nation. The company now serves business customers in 28 major metropolitan markets and other areas throughout Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, and is one of the foremost competitors to Southwestern Bell in the Central U.S. Later this year, Birch will open offices in North Carolina and South Carolina, and the company has been certified to operate in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. Birch delivers service using the unbundled network element platform. UNE-P enables the company to lease network elements from the regional Bell operating company (RBOC), package them into customized, Birch-branded services, and then offer them to customers at discounts.

For more information, visit Birch's residential Web site at http://www.birch.com/atHome or call (866) FIRE-BELL to order service.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 24, 2001
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