Channel Partners

December 29, 2006

4 Min Read
Companies Then & Now

Sherm Henderson was founder and CEO of Charter Network Inc., a long-distance reseller operating in the Ameritech region. In 1987, I was real happy to be a long-distance provider in five states, he recalls.

Today, Henderson is CEO of Lightyear Network Solutions and chairman of COMPTEL. His company, formed in 1993 as UniDial, now offers a range of voice and data services through indirect sales channels. Today, I think about being a provider of everything from long-distance to data to Interent to TV to broadband worldwide, he says. Thats a big difference.

John Marsch was CEO of TMC California, which was founded in 1982 and built the first digital microwave network to connect area businesses with fiber-optic technology. It provided service to more than 14,000 commercial customers and had 150 employees and seven offices throughout the state.

Marsch, who died in May 2006, left behind a profitable, self-sustaining business that remains deeply committed to the agent channel. In 1989, Marsch sold TMC Cal, but relaunched TMC in 1997 as a reseller of voice and data services to businesses nationwide. It has 30 employees and 300 sales partners. Marsch pioneered the development of the agent channel and was one of the first companies to offer an agent equity program.

THEN: Bell Atlantic and NYNEX were two of the seven RBOCs formed from the divestiture of AT&T. Both operated in the Northeastern part of the United States. In 1987, GTE Corp. was the largest independent local phone company in the country with annual revenue of $15.4 billion and 161,000 employees worldwide. MCI, which paved the way for other competitive carriers, was the No. 2 long-distance company behind rival AT&T.

Verizon Communications Inc., formed in 2000 from the combination of Bell Atlantic and GTE, merged with longdistance carrier MCI in 2006. The combined entity delivers broadband and other wireline and wireless communication services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.

THEN: United Telecommunications completes the nations first all-digital fiber-optic network, but it wont be until 1991 that the telco changes its name to Sprint and becomes one of the Big Three interexchange carriers. In 1987, the company had more than 23,000 employees and $5.5 billion in revenue. Also, in 1987, Morgan OBrien founded a company called Fleet Net. Renamed Nextel in 1993, the company rapidly established itself in wireless communications.

Created in 2004 by the merger of Sprint and Nextel, the new entity offers wireless and wireline communications services to more than 51 million customers. As part of the merger, Sprints local division was spun off as EMBARQ Corp.

THEN: In 1987, there were seven regional Bell operating companies, three of which were Southwestern Bell Corp., Ameritech and Pacific Telesis.

These three Baby Bells are back together with their parent as the new AT&T Inc., after SBC Communications Inc. closed its acquisition of AT&T Corp. in November 2005.

THEN: BellSouth Corp. was one of the seven RBOCs created from the breakup of the Bell System.With three years of independence under its belt the company experienced record-setting installation of 650,000 access lines 28 percent more than the previous year in its Southeastern territory.

BellSouth maintains 19.04 million access lines in service, approximately 7.6 million longdistance customers and approximately 3.45 million DSL subscribers. It employs nearly 60,000 people and generated nearly $34 billion in revenue in 2005. BellSouth plans to merge with the new AT&T pending regulatory approvals. The two companies are joint owners of Cingular Wireless.

THEN: US West was one of the seven RBOCs created by the divestiture of AT&T. The company provided local telephone service in a 14-state territory in the midwest. In 1987, it became the first local telco to offer caller ID.

Qwest Communications International Inc., which also includes the 1999 acquisition of US West by long-lines operator Qwest, provides voice, video and data services. The company has some 40,000 employees and annual revenue of $13.9 billion.

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