COMPTEL: A 30-Year Journey Fighting Against AT&T, Other Big Dogs

COMPTEL and its members have come a long way since the days of Old Ma Bell and competition in the long-distance telephone market.

March 21, 2011

2 Min Read
COMPTEL: A 30-Year Journey Fighting Against AT&T, Other Big Dogs

By Josh Long

COMPTEL PLUS In 1981, an association was born to represent companies that were competing with Old Ma Bell.

COMPTEL then known as the Association of Long Distance Telephone Companies (ALTEL)  is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year fighting on behalf of its members in Washington, D.C., against mighty telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon.

The association on Monday unveiled a new logo to mark the anniversary.

When COMPTEL was started 30 years ago, we were focused on a single issue competition in the long distance market,” COMPTEL CEO Jerry James said. But the association has continued to evolve, in order to ensure competition develops to other aspects of the industry from local telephony to Internet access to broadband.”

COMPTEL was formed at a time when the fledging telecommunications competition industry was having a hard time competing in the public policy field with AT&T,” said Jerry McAndrews, the associations first president, in a video that was displayed Monday at the COMPTEL PLUS Spring 2011 Convention & Expo in Las Vegas.

At the time, the American public was unaware of the hundreds of smaller long-distance competitors to AT&T, said Cathy Sloan, COMPTELs former vice president of congressional relations, in a video that explored the history of the association.

James Smith, who served as COMPTELs president from 2000 to 2007, said the associations greatest accomplishment was to secure the pro competitive elements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which really allowed the competitive industry to move on.”

COMPTEL later merged with other organizations, including the Association for Communications Enterprise (ASCENT) and the Association for Local Telecommunications Services (ALTS), and grew its trade shows, said Russell Frisby, a former COMPTEL CEO.

Today, COMPTEL represents about 200 members at a time when Americas largest telecommunications providers, such as Qwest Communications and CenturyLink, continue to get larger and more powerful through multibillion-dollar mergers and acquisitions. Some of COMPTELs service provider members include Cbeyond, EarthLink, PAETEC and tw telecom.

Looking into the future, COMPTELs James said the association and its members must be persistent.”

We have to work harder than anybody else,” he said.  Whats new?”

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