MCI to Compete With AT&T; on 800 Service

Associated Press

MCI said Wednesday that it will offer a nationwide alternative to AT&T;'s toll-free 800 service early next year.

American Telephone & Telegraph, which introduced the service in 1967, has a virtual lock on the $4-billion-a-year market. However, changes in local telephone switching systems make the complicated computerized call-routing technology available to AT&T;'s competitors.

In its announcement, MCI said it would provide customers with some refinements not available from AT&T;, including detailed billing, volume discounts for small and large customers, and a pricing scheme more distance-sensitive than AT&T;'s.