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SOUTHERN BELL INVESTING $285 MILLION IN NORTH CAROLINA NETWORK

 SOUTHERN BELL INVESTING $285 MILLION IN NORTH CAROLINA NETWORK
 CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Bell plans to spend $285 million to expand and upgrade its telecommunications network in North Carolina in 1992.
 The majority of the funds will be used to modernize central office switching equipment and to expand, update and increase the reliability of transmission facilities.
 "Southern Bell's network in North Carolina is as advanced as any in the country," said J. Billie Ray Jr., president of the company's North Carolina operations.
 "We're working hard to make sure our customers have a state-of- the-art network and the latest products and services. They will settle for nothing less, and neither will we."
 Ray said Southern Bell had invested more than $1.2 billion in new plant and equipment in the state since 1989.
 Construction budget totals for 1992 by calling Zone are: Asheville, $48.7 million; Charlotte, $95 million; Greensboro, $48.6 million; Raleigh, $59.4 million; and Wilmington, $33.3 million.
 New Equipment and Services
 Southern Bell plans to spend more than $121 million on new central office switching equipment in North Carolina in 1992.
 The company is continuing its effort to replace analogue switches with digital units. Digital switching, which is based on numerical coding rather than electric wave signals, transmits voice, data and video signals faster, clearer and more accurately.
 By year-end, 93 percent of Southern Bell's central offices will be equipped with digital switches. The company expects to convert all state switches to digital by mid-to late-1990s.
 Southern Bell also is upgrading its central offices to offer advanced calling features to more customers in 1992. The company plans to offer the TouchStar(R) generation of calling services to many new communities.
 TouchStar includes such features as Repeat Dialing, Call Return and l? Tracing. By year-end, 99 percent of Southern Bell's 1.7 million access lines in North Carolina will have TouchStar capability.
 In addition, TouchStar's range will extend beyond local calling areas to most or all of each calling zone by the end of the year. The company also is testing TouchStar-type interconnections with long-distance companies.
 Southern Bell will conduct several advance network pilot projects in North Carolina in 1992. Among them are the Vision Carolina interactive-video, distance-learning trial in the Charlotte and Wilmington areas and the Impact North Carolina distance-learning trial in Boone.
 Transmission Facilities
 Southern Bell will invest more than $107 million in new transmission equipment in North Carolina in 1992.
 The company plans to install more that 17,000 miles of new fiber-optic transmission facilities this year. It had placed more than 86,000 miles of fiber in the state at year-end 1991.
 Fiber-optic cable consists of hair-thin glass strands that transmit signals from lasers at the speed of light. A half-inch-thick fiber cable can carry up to 3.5 million conversations simultaneously.
 As in 1991, much of the funds spent on transmission facilities will go toward "self-healing" and redundant routing for major trunk lines and to convert local "feeder" lines to digital service.
 Self-healing facilities reroute calls instantaneously if a major cable is cut or damaged. By year-end, 94 percent of Southern Bell's access lines in North Carolina will be connected to trunks with self-healing capability.
 Southern Bell will fund $13 million in 1992 for relocating transmission facilities for highway construction projects.
 -0- 3/11/92 R
 /CONTACT: Asheville -- Chuck Reiley, 704-258-7005; Chapel Hill -- Mark Collins, 919-933-0222; Charlotte -- Bob Freedman, 704-357-6767; Gastonia -- Pam Massey, 704-861-6046; Goldsboro -- Mark Collins, 919-731-2084; Greensboro -- Jim Belk, 919-855-4747; Lenoir -- Curtis Hedgecock, 704-754-1747; Raleigh -- Dave Lane, 919-881-7690; Wilmington -- Royce Angel, 919-392-8727; Winston-Salem -- King Triplett, 919-722-9061/ CO: Southern Bell ST: North Carolina IN: TLS SU: PDT


DF -- CH005 -- 7436 03/11/92 16:07 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 11, 1992
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