AT&T; Tries to Enlarge Service to Soviets
American Telephone & Telegraph Co. is seeking permission to use additional circuits on a Soviet satellite system as it attempts to unsnarl a surge in telephone traffic between the United States and the Soviet Union.
AT&T;, the primary carrier of calls between the two nations, asked the Federal Communications Commission to open 42 more circuits on the Soviet Intersputnik satellite system.
The nation’s largest long-distance phone company made the request Wednesday, less than a week after it carried its first calls on the Soviet satellites.
“We want to be able to complete more calls because customers need that,” AT&T; spokesman Jim McGann said.
He said calling volume to the Soviet Union is running about 25 times higher than average. Normally, only about one in 10 calls from the United States to the Soviet Union gets through because of lack of sufficient circuits, he said. In the days immediately after the failed Aug. 19 coup, calls to the Soviet Union ran as high as 100 times normal.
The FCC on Aug. 21 allowed AT&T; and IDB Telecommunications Services of Los Angeles to each use 24 circuits on Intersputnik. It was the first time a Soviet satellite has been allowed to carry voice communications between the two nations.
AT&T; put its 24 circuits into operation Aug. 31. IDB, which provides private line service between the United States and the Soviet Union and also sells satellite access to long-distance companies, plans to have its circuits operating by early October, spokesman Michael Teeling said.
AT&T; said in its FCC filing that despite the 24 news circuits, 95% of calls attempted between the United States and the Soviet Union this week were not completed due to inadequate capacity. Up to 13,000 calls are being attempted each hour, it said.