MediaOne launched its "MediaOne Digital Telephone
Service" in Richmond, Va., last week -- the sixth market where the company has
entered the local phone business this year.
In the midst of a $50 million upgrade in the community of
200,000, the MSO began by offering its new service to 5,000 of its 140,000 area
subscribers -- 3,000 in the suburb of Ashland, and 2,000 in metro Richmond.
MediaOne unveiled the new offering at a press conference
that featured an appearance by House Commerce Committee chairman Thomas J. Bliley (R-Va.),
one of the principal architects of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which paved the way
for competition in the local loop.
The company's plans are to offer service citywide once
it completes its local upgrade late next year, said Gary Lane, vice president of telephony
services for the MediaOne National Markets Group, which is responsible for launching
telephony in Virginia, Florida, New York and Minnesota.
"As we build out our network to broadband standards,
we'll offer telephone service as a component of that build-out," Lane added
In the meantime, plans call for the company to introduce
its MediaOne Express high-speed Internet-access service in Richmond sometime next year.
The MSO has already launched phone service in Atlanta,
Boston, Los Angeles and Jacksonville and Lighthouse Point, Fla.
Company officials touted a 15 percent cost savings in
choosing MediaOne over incumbent telco Bell Atlantic Corp., beginning with a one-line
package containing 17 features -- including call waiting, caller ID and three-way calling
-- that retails for $26.95 per month.
One fully featured and one basic line will go for $37.95
per month, while two fully loaded lines will sell for $49.95. Each additional line will
cost $10 per month.
Customers will be able to keep their existing telephone
numbers and long-distance carriers when switching to MediaOne, and they will have 30 days
during which they can switch back to their old carriers at no charge.
Customers signing up will receive free installation, as
well as one month's free service and three months of free voice mail.
MediaOne is the third MSO to compete for local telephone
customers in Virginia. It joined Cox Communications Inc., which is offering telephony
services in Hampton Roads, and Jones Intercable Inc., which is taking on Bell Atlantic in
The arrival of another facilities-based provider is good
news for Bell Atlantic, which wants to offer in-region long-distance service, as it must
first convince the Federal Communications Commission that it has opened its local market
to outsider competitors.