Six regional Bell telephone companies have signed a joint marketing agreement to offer their individual network services and products to new personal communications services providers.
Ameritech, Bell Atlantic Corp., BellSouth Telecommunications, Nynex Corp., Pacific Bell and U S West Communications have joined together to offer their standard services under the Unibridge name.
“Unibridge members will offer a set of core products and services which are consistent in feature, functionality and availability,” the companies said. “Some of the compatible network services that may be offered include: interconnection options, SS7 (signaling system 7), microcell support, switching, operator services and Advanced Intelligent Network-related services.”
The companies will decide independently the availability and pricing of the products and services, depending on the applicable state and federal tariffs and regulations.
The Bell companies plan to serve as one-stop shopping center for information and referral services, including connecting the PCS provider in touch with the proper contact at the Bell company, said Harry Mitchell, manager of media relations with Bell Atlantic. “Sometimes trying to get in touch with the right person is difficult. This clears the path.”
As part of the joint marketing agreement, Unibridge will sponsor forums and information-sharing sessions and furnish a newsletter to PCS providers, Mitchell said.
“One of the most important benefits of Unibridge is that PCS providers can actually reduce capital investments in infrastructure and use the savings to market their services,” said Helen Seltzer, vice president of marketing and sales at Bell Atlantic Carrier Services. “PCS providers can also enjoy the benefits of a one-stop network information referral service. They can make one call and obtain information about how Unibridge member services can meet their multi-city, cross-regional needs.”
Even though Bell companies will be competing with PCS providers for wireless customers, providing network services and products to PCS companies isn’t counter productive, Mitchell said. As the wireless telecommunications industry becomes more complex, competitors of local exchange carriers also can be their largest customers, he explained. For example, AT&T Corp. is one of Bell Atlantic’s largest customers, but also is a competitor in offering long-distance service to end users.
“With the Unibridge arrangement, PCS providers can easily obtain information about network-to-network interconnection that will benefit not only PCS carriers, but all wireless subscribers as well, due to consistency in method of operation,” Unibridge said.
Many of the services PCS providers are looking for are driven by the needs of the wireless subscribers. Unibridge members will help the provider meet those needs through compatible products and services that enable the new PCS networks to be deployed more rapidly, said Ken Denman, executive director of the wireless marketing group at U S West Communications.
Each of the Unibridge member companies will rotate as project coordinators, Bell Atlantic’s Mitchell said. Southwestern Bell Corp. is the only Bell company that has not joined Unibridge, but Mitchell said Unibridge is talking to other LECs, including Southwestern Bell, about participating.