March 11, 1997 6:15 PM ET
AT&T; adds to roster of local services
By Stephanie LaPolla

  In step with plans to reshape the company, AT&T; Corp. today added Grand Rapids, Mich., to the growing list of local territories it will service.

Separately, the telecommunications giant continues attempts to reduce head count by offering buyout packages to managers in its business market unit.

Michigan is the first midwestern state that AT&T; has entered as a local phone service provider. The Basking Ridge, N.J., company already has a local presence in Connecticut and Sacramento, Calif., said officials.

Initially, the company will resell phone service from its competitor, Ameritech Corp., which owns the local loop. Eventually, AT&T; will partner with other access providers or build its own facilities where it is economically practical, said officials.

AT&T; might also introduce its new fixed wireless technology into the local area. A beta test site for fixed wireless is currently taking place in Chicago.

The local service will consist of three plans for residential customers: $10 per month for 50 calls, $12.80 per month for a 400-call plan, or $42 per month for unlimited calling. AT&T; will offer local service to Michigan business customers later this year building on the current Digital Link outbound service.

"The same obstacles are in place for local business service as for the consumer," said Tom Hopkins, an AT&T; spokesman in Chicago. "The operational and system interfaces have to work flawlessly before we can deliver heavy volumes."

As AT&T; moves into new local territories, it will add employees to segments of the business focusing on wireless and Internet technologies, officials said. In the meantime, the company still needs to trim its current work force, they said.

In that regard, AT&T; has offered severance packages to as many as 4,000 managers as well as transition assistance funding of up to $10,000 to help a departing employee relocate, start a new business or retrain for a new job.

AT&T; plans to cut about 17,000 jobs by the year 2000.

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