American Telephone & Telegraph Co. proposed Thursday that it be allowed to offer private telephone networks for business customers using its existing web of long-distance telephone lines as a backbone.
If approved by the Federal Communications Commission, a corporation could have a system of dedicated lines to its offices located across the nation without the cost of having a separate piece of wire running from the main office to each of the outposts.
An employee in any office could dial other phones on the network as easily as dialing a local call.
At&T; said it would still be cheaper to maintain private dedicated circuits on lines that are used heavily. With private lines, customers pay a flat monthly rate no matter how many calls are made.
The company said the service is designed for companies already heavily into private lines and would allow expansion of a private network to maximize price performance. AT&T; said there would be overall savings for a customer, although there might not be a lower price on each phone call.
With the new service, AT&T; promises many of the conveniences of private lines but at a price based on the time and distance covered by a call. The system could also carry data.
If the FCC approves, the service will be offered later this year, AT&T; said.