Printer Friendly

WILTEL LAWSUIT SAYS AT&T HAS UNDERTAKEN AN ILLEGAL AND MALICIOUS MAIL CAMPAIGN TO DRIVE AWAY WILTEL CUSTOMERS

 TULSA, Okla., March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- WilTel, Inc., has filed a federal court lawsuit seeking damages and injunctive relief from AT&T (NYSE: T) as a result of a massive AT&T mail campaign apparently seeking to drive customers away from WilTel with false and malicious statements concerning the legality of their contracts.
 "WilTel will not be bullied by AT&T," said Roy Wilkens, WilTel president and chief executive officer. "This mail campaign is yet another example of AT&T's unending bid to eliminate competition from the marketplace.
 "The AT&T letters imply that our customers entered into unlawful agreements. It appears the mailings have been directed to senior executives.
 "Both WilTel and its customers resent AT&T's marketing via harassment, scare tactics and innuendo," Wilkens said. "This scurrilous approach would not be acceptable in any business environment, and it certainly is not worthy of America's dominant telecommunications company."
 WilTel also asked the court to issue a ruling rejecting AT&T's position that long distance companies such as WilTel owe AT&T damages because they have been providing service to customers under contracts rather than tariffs.
 "AT&T knows full well that WilTel has conducted its business exactly the way the Federal Communications Commission said we could," Wilkens said. "WilTel has always provided its commercial customers products and services with consistent and fair prices."
 For the past three weeks, AT&T has distributed the letters signed by company officials to many of WilTel's contract customers.
 The letters state that WilTel and other companies have engaged in secret deals with customers and that "secret deals with long-distance companies are unlawful, and therefore, unenforceable." The AT&T letters also falsely suggest that WilTel customers somehow have been harmed.
 This allegation of secret deals is surprising, Wilkens said, in light of AT&T's frequent practice of requiring the user to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to negotiating contract rates in secret.
 The WilTel lawsuit describes AT&T's conduct in the letter-writing campaign as "grossly negligent, reckless, malicious" in addition to exhibiting reckless disregard for the truth.
 The letters may disrupt WilTel's relationship with its contract customers and have the potential for causing loss of business and damage to WilTel's reputation, the lawsuit said.
 "AT&T is using its gigantic size in an attempt to eliminate agile competitors like WilTel from the scene," Wilkens said. "WilTel will vigorously resist with all available resources. Even with its billion- dollar advertising war chest, AT&T's 'Make the Right Choice or Else' approach just won't fly."
 WilTel's lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, claims illegal interference with contractual relations. It also seeks damages for related unfair trade practices and violations of the federal Communications Act by AT&T.
 It seeks a permanent injunction preventing AT&T from interfering with WilTel's contractual relationships, and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
 In a separate motion filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Williams Telecommunications Group, Inc., asked the court to dismiss a Feb. 10 lawsuit filed by AT&T. The AT&T lawsuit was filed last month against Williams Telecommunications along with similar lawsuits against MCI and Sprint.
 The lawsuits claim the defendants violated the Communications Act because they had provided service not set forth in tariffs filed with the FCC. Tariffs provide information about prices charged for classes of service.
 The motion notes that AT&T inappropriately filed its lawsuit against Williams Telecommunications, another one of The Williams Companies, which is not a common carrier and is not subject to the tariff filing requirements.
 WilTel has relied on FCC policies and rules, which have exempted WilTel from tariff filing requirements. In November 1992, a federal appeals court ruled that FCC guidelines exempting certain carriers -- including WilTel -- from filing tariffs were inconsistent with provisions of the Communications Act. AT&T filed its lawsuit only three weeks after the ruling became final.
 The federal appeals court ruling has effectively changed long- standing FCC tariff-filing guidelines, and WilTel intends to file tariffs in the future as required. The FCC has just announced it will hold rule-making proceedings to determine the guidelines for non-dominant carriers for filing tariffs.
 WilTel is a full-service telecommunications company that offers data, voice and video products and services nationwide. WilTel owns and operates a nationwide digital fiber-optic network, one of only four in the United States, with access to more than 30,000 system miles.
 WilTel has the only nationwide fiber-optic network dedicated primarily to business communications services. WilTel has sales and service offices in more than 100 cities nationwide.
 WilTel and Williams Telecommunications are subsidiaries of The Williams Companies, Inc. (NYSE: WMB), a $5 billion corporation based in Tulsa, that also operates a nationwide energy transportation system. Williams is listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges (symbol WMB).
 -0- 03/09/93
 /CONTACT: Gil Broyles, manager - media relations of WilTel, Inc., 918-588-5752/
 (WMB T)


CO: WilTel, Inc.; The Williams Companies, Inc.; AT&T ST: Oklahoma IN: TLS SU:

AH -- NY053 -- 4546 03/09/93 12:55 EST
COPYRIGHT 1993 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 9, 1993
Words:838
Previous Article:PENNSYLVANIA $100 MILLION CP PROGRAM RATED 'F-1+' BY FITCH -- FITCH FINANCIAL WIRE --
Next Article:ALCAN PUBLISHES 1992 ANNUAL REPORT
Topics:


Related Articles
WILTEL DETAILS SPECIFIC PLANS FOR ATM DEPLOYMENT COMMERCIAL ATM SERVICE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN 1993
WILTEL ANNOUNCES TURNKEY CHANNEL NETWORKING SERVICE WITH MIGRATION PATH TO ATM PLATFORM BY YEAR-END '93
WILTEL'S FUTURE IS DATA, COMPANY DETAILS DATA STRATEGY ATM NETWORK ILLUSTRATES COMMITMENT TO DATA SERVICES
WILTEL INTERNATIONAL DEPLOYS MARKET-LEADING WILPAK FRAME RELAY IN EUROPE: FORMS STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS
WILTEL AND EMTELCUBA TO LAY FIRST UNDERSEA FIBER-OPTIC CABLE BETWEEN FLORIDA AND CUBA; ESTABLISH LONG-DISTANCE LINKS
UNIDIAL SURPASSES $1 MILLION IN MONTHLY BILLING
FCC APPROVES WILTEL'S APPLICATION TO PROVIDE TELEPHONE SERVICE TO CUBA
WILTEL MAKES DIRECT DIAL CALLS TO CUBA REALITY; TELEPHONE SERVICE TO ISLAND NATION NOW AVAILABLE
WILTEL TO PROVIDE INTRALATA SERVICE IN CALIFORNIA; INTERLATA/INTRASTATE RATES TO THE STATE WILL BE REDUCED
RECORD RESALE TELECOM CONTRACT INKED: NTC SIGNS $600 MILLION AGREEMENT WITH WILTEL

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters