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Qwest, LCI $4.4 Billion Merger Creates New Communications Powerhouse April 1998

Channel Partners

April 1, 1998

26 Min Read
Qwest, LCI $4.4 Billion Merger Creates New Communications Powerhouse

Posted: 04/1998

Qwest, LCI $4.4 Billion Merger Creates New Communications Powerhouse

By Ken Branson

Qwest Communications International Inc. and LCI International Inc. were headed toward
each other’s bread and butter, and, instead of trying to eat each other’s lunch, decided
to share it. So the companies last month announced plans to merge in an all-stock deal
valued at $4.4 billion.

"Joe’s team was building in our direction," LCI CEO Brian Thompson says of
Qwest’s CEO Joseph Nacchio. "We were building in his direction. I think we hit it at
just the right time."

Nacchio will lead the new company while Thompson will be a "full-time vice

LCI, a scrappy $1 billion long distance company focusing on business voice services,
had its eye on expanding its efforts in data services (the company already offers global
and domestic frame relay and private line services as well as Internet services), an
enormous growth area. Meanwhile, Qwest, a new brand of network operator offering data
services as well as synchronous optical network (SONET) and raw network capacity to other
carriers, had branched into the long distance voice service arena.

Now the two companies are combining their offerings to provide customers with a
smorgasbord of new options.

"When we walk into big accounts and put an integrated offer on the table, we’re
doing something the incumbents can’t do and aren’t incented to do," Nacchio says.

LCI’s traffic will move to Qwest’s network–which Nacchio describes as able to move
data "faster than routers can route and faster than operations systems can
operate"–as soon as possible after the merger is consummated. Nacchio and Thompson
say they hope that would happen by June 1.

The Combined Qwest/LCI

  • will be the fourth largest long-distance company as measured by revenues (assuming the WorldCom Inc./MCI Communications Corp. deal is completed)

  • had $2.3 billion in combined revenues for 1997

  • will serve more than two million business and residential customers

  • will have total market capitalization of more than $11 billion

  • will operate in more than 70 U.S. locations

  • will include Qwest’s current 3,600 miles activated from Los Angeles to Columbus, and Dallas to Houston

  • will include LCI’s more than 180 million circuit miles of digital fiber optics

"From the LCI perspective, (the benefit) is the emphasis needed in the enhanced
data services arena," says Jeff Phillips, broadband consultant for TeleChoice Inc.
"They’ve traditionally been focused on voice services, and on the small and medium
business customer. They need something offering them a bit more margin."

Qwest, meanwhile, will benefit from the deal by getting access to LCI’s distribution
channels, and back office systems and expertise.

"They get access to hundreds of (LCI) sales reps across the country,"
Phillips says. "The challenge will be to train these people to sell enhanced data
services. They’ve been trained to sell voice."

Nacchio says LCI’s back-office systems made the long distance carrier particularly
attractive to Qwest. Thompson says LCI has spent more than $300 million over the past few
years upgrading those systems.

Each company will also realize savings from the company by eliminating the need to
build separate sales and systems infrastructure, they says.

Before the merger was announced, some observers thought LCI might make an attractive
takeover target for an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), particularly a Bell
operating company.

That’s still a possibility. Such a move, Phillips says, would solve Qwest/LCI’s problem
of gaining local access, and possibly "get an RBOC out of its region" and into
long distance.

As for the new Qwest, Phillips believes the combined company might look for
partnerships or a merger with a competitive local exchange carrier (CLECs) to fill the
local loop gap.

The Qwest For Success

By Paula Bernier

Qwest Communications International Inc. has been going great guns in recent weeks.

In addition to announcing plans to take over LCI, Qwest has been raking in new
contracts and launching a commercial IP voice service while continuing to expand its
network’s reach and capabilities.

Cable & Wireless Inc., recently awarded Qwest a five-year contract valued at $107
million to provide it with fiber optic capacity in the United States.

Intertel Corp. added another $70 million to Qwest’s till. That deal includes the sale
of multiple DS-3s across the United States and to London.

US WEST Communications, meanwhile, penned a deal for Qwest to provide it with
collocation space and data services over the Qwest national fiber backbone in 25
out-of-region markets where US WEST doesn’t already have a network.

In early February, Qwest commercially launched its 7.5-cents-a-minute phone-to-phone
Internet protocol (IP) telephony service, Q.talk, in nine western cities and expanding.

Qwest also announced recently plans to offer frame relay and asynchronous transfer mode
(ATM) services to the carrier market.

Qwest is also installing three new DMS 250 switches from Northern Telecom Inc. (Nortel)
in Atlanta, Chicago and New York City. "Our rapidly growing long distance services
require us to enhance our network with additional switches," says Larry Seese,
executive vice president, network engineering operations of Qwest.

According to Greg Casey, senior vice president of carrier markets at Qwest, Nortel’s
network management system will allow Qwest customers to provision their own private lines
now. In the future, Qwest will expand that to ATM and frame relay provisioning.

By Paula Bernier

International callback company USA Global Link Inc. has tapped 3Com Corp. to supply key
network infrastructure for its $1.2 billion worldwide Internet telephony system called
Global InterNetwork, which was announced last spring and launches service this spring.

The first phase of the build out will include the installation of 500 IP (Internet
protocol) voice gateways over the next three years at a cost to USA Global Link of about
$500 million, says spokesman Mark Petrick. About $100 million worth of that $500 million
will be used to purchase new 3Com Total Control multiservice platforms, which have
Internet telephony gateway functionality, says Petrick. (Internet telephony gateways take
voice traffic off the traditional circuit-switched network and convert it to packets so it
can run over the Internet.)

USA Global Link will begin installing the 3Com equipment this month. Other equipment
suppliers for the project have yet to be announced.

Petrick says the company plans to launch its Internet telephony service in April. The
first locations scheduled for launch include New York and Dublin. Other early launch sites
are expected to include Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland and the
United Kingdom.

"We’re going in to liberalized markets where it’s easy for us to put these
in," says Petrick.

USA Global Link earlier this year was testing the Internet telephony service with a
limited number of residential and small business customers in Belgium, Germany and the

As it does with its international callback services, USA Global Link will target its
new Internet telephony services at small- and medium-sized businesses and reach those
customers with its existing network of local sales representatives, says Petrick.

"We have a large number of customers that use the callback service
internationally, and we will be migrating some of those customers to IP voice," he

While the callback services require customers to call a U.S. number, hang up, and wait
for USA Global Link’s U.S. switch to call them back to get a dial tone (and therefore a
lower outbound cost than is available in the country from which they’re calling), Internet
telephony will only require customers to enter an account code before dialing the number.

And it will be less expensive for USA Global Link to provide telephone services over
the Internet and gateways than over the public switched telephone network (PSTN), which
requires multimillion-dollar switches and often steep international access rates, says

USA Global Link, which already owns its own traditional switches and some transmission
capacity, says its customers’ calls will likely traverse a patchwork network including the
PSTN, the Internet and other data networks.

"We are looking to move to a full-blown IP network," says Gary Hamm, USA
Global Link’s chief technology officer. "This (full-blown IP network) would let you
have a small PBX (private branch exchange) in your own house without the expense of
bringing in multiple lines from a telephone company."

But first the company needs to build out the necessary infrastructure. But during the
build out, Hamm says, USA Global Link will route its voice traffic over IP links where

PC-to-Phone Service Available from Delta Three

Delta Three and its parent company, RSL Communications Ltd., now offer a PC-to-phone
service over the Delta Three Global IP (Interet protocol) Network that allows customers to
make long distance calls to anywhere in the world at cut-rate prices.

The two companies are expanding their distribution for the service by offering Internet
service providers (ISPs) the opportunity to offer the service to their customers and
receive a cut of the action. ISPs that agree to distribute the required client software
for the Delta Three service on their websites can raise new revenues from existing
customers based on the minutes their customers use the Delta Three service.

Delta Three says its rates are up to 80 percent less than other long distance rates.
For example, a call from a PC in Moscow to a phone in New York costs 12.5 cents a minute
using Delta Three, compared with more than $2 a minute, which is what the telephone
company in Moscow charges.

Justice Employs Internet Telephony For Callback Service

By Paula Bernier

Callback company Justice Technology Corp. is taking a hybrid Internet
telephony/circuit-switched network approach with a new, low-cost long distance service it
recently launched in Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Today, callback services typically entail a customer from another country calling the
U.S.-based switch of a company such as Justice. The caller then hangs up and waits for the
switch to automatically call them back to provide them with a U.S. dial tone. The caller
then dials the number of the actual destination. Those three calls have all traditionally
traveled over the circuit-switched public switched telephone network.

With the new Justice Technology service, however, the first leg of the call goes over
the Internet. The corporate customer needs to install a Nortel MICOM Phone/Fax IP
(Internet protocol) Gateway, which is basically a board that plugs into a standard PC, and
must have a connection to the Internet at 64 kilobits per second or higher. The Micom
gateway translates the voice calls into bits and sends them to the Justice Technology
switch. Then, once Justice does authentication and billing at its U.S. switch, it routes
the call over the least expensive route of the circuit-switched Justice Technology

Equipment Provider, Manager World Access Picks Cherry

By Paula Bernier

World Access Inc. last month signed a letter of intent to acquire Cherry Communications
Inc., also known as Resurgens Communications Group Inc. Terms of the deal were not

World Access develops, installs and manages switching and transport equipment for
carriers around the world. Resurgens, which can terminate traffic in 290 countries and is
a signatory of several transoceanic fiber cable consortiums, provides international long
distance transport to other carriers.

The deal will open the door for Resurgens to partner with competitive carriers abroad
for which World Access manages facilities. And it will allow World Access to provide not
only equipment and related services, but transport and switching as well.

"The acquisition of Resurgens would be in line with the company’s strategy to
provide its customers with a complete telecommunications network solution, including
switching, transport and access products and related services," says Steven A. Odom,
chair and CEO of World Access. "The international network access product offered by
Resurgens is a critical element of new and expanded networks currently being planned or
implemented by many customers of World Access. We believe the ability to offer both
equipment and network access would provide World Access with a more comprehensive and
cost-competitive product offering, especially for international competitive local exchange
providers and other providers of phone service in emerging growth markets."

John D. Phillips, who in October took over as chair and CEO of the new Resurgens, says:
"We will be a total network solutions company to the telecom industry abroad."

Resurgens has been operating under the protection of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy
Code since shortly after Phillips took over as chair and CEO of the company, which had
revenues of about $180 million in 1997. He struck an agreement last year with WorldCom
Inc., a major customer and vendor of Resurgens, which agreed to provide Resurgens up to
$28 million in financing. WorldCom is expected to own about 55 percent of the outstanding
stock of Resurgens following the World Access deal.

Resurgens has contracts to provide international long distance capacity to 98 carrier
customers. It has switches in Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; Newark, N.J.; Orlando, Fla.;
and San Francisco; and has a "megaswitch" in London. And it expects to have 70
to 80 switches placed around the world over the next couple of years, according to

Sprint’s Forsee Takes Reins of Global One

By Ken Branson

When the pin dropped recently at Sprint Communications Corp., the crockery rattled in

Sprint, France Telecom Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG have announced Viesturs Vucins is
out and Gary Forsee is in as president and CEO of Global One, their international joint

The press release cited "personal reasons" for Vucins’ departure. But the
announcement was made on a Friday, a day reserved by public relations people for the
whispering of bad news, and followed a disappointing earnings report for the last quarter
of 1997–a drop of 14 cents per share, compared to a loss of 5 cents for the same quarter
in 1996.

Melanie Posey, senior analyst for IDC Link Inc., New York, suggests that Global One’s
owners hope that Forsee will bring "more of a hard-nosed marketing focus" to
Global One.

"I think it’s interesting that they got rid of a European and put in an American
as CEO," she says. "It’s part of this whole notion that Americans understand
marketing better. And, of course, a lot of their customer base has nodes in the United

Mike Smith, a telecom analyst for Probe Research of Cedar Knolls, N.J., says that
Forsee has the right skills for his new job, but that the company needs more than good
leadership to succeed. Indeed, Smith believes the very idea of multinational
telecommunications alliances may be on trial. What Global One needs, he says, is a unified
vision and a unified plan for achieving it.

"When Global One and other alliances were first announced, they were thought to be
a good thing, because all these international companies were going to be united,"
Smith says. "But if you drill down deeper, you find two incumbent, essentially
monopoly operators in France and Germany, and an American company which emerged by
competing with that kind of monopoly. It isn’t surprising they’re having some

IDC’s Posey adds that Global One has had network integration problems, and these
problems have put the company at a competitive disadvantage.

"Part of the problem is their infrastructure," she says. "They have a
lot of old switches in their network, and there are lots of different kinds of equipment,
so there have been some integration problems."

She adds that regulatory barriers also got in the way until recently.

"They couldn’t sell service directly to someone who needed a connection in France
or Germany," she says. "Instead, the customer had to go directly to France
Telecom or Deutsche Telekom."

A company spokesperson acknowledges the difficulty of knitting together the networks of
three very different partners.

"We’re taking three voice networks and three data networks and trying to merge all
six into one platform," says Vince Hovanec, Global One’s director of corporate
communications. "And, indeed, the shareholders have all made reference to the fact
that integration of the networks is a major problem. You want to make (the integration) as
seamless as possible, but the more translation protocols you have to make…well, that
becomes a challenge. And you’ve got to do it in 65 countries. It’s easier to do it in
places like the European community, Canada, or Japan, because you’ve got the
infrastructure. But providing the same quality of service in Bangkok as in Boston, Berlin
or Brisbane is a challenge."

Frisby To Lead CompTel Into The Future

H. Russell Frisby Jr. has taken the reins of the Competitive Telecommunications
Association (CompTel).

He succeeds James M. Smith, who resigned in September 1997 to join Excel Communications
Inc. in Dallas.

Frisby previously was chair of the Maryland Public Service Commission, which handles
state policy related to telecommunications as well as gas, electric, water, sewage
disposal and steam heating companies. Prior to that, he was a partner at the law firm of
Venable, Baetjer and Howard, specializing in regulatory/telecommunications law.

CompTel, whose roots took hold in the long distance world, today represents a vast
array of telecommunications providers that offer both local and long distance, retail and
wholesale services.

New Laws Propose Tougher Penalties for Slamming

Proposed anti-slamming legislation from the U.S. Senate would institute stiff financial
penalties for companies that switch individuals’ telephone service providers without
written or verbal consent.

That includes a fine of not less than $40,000 for the first offense, and not less than
$150,000 for any repeated offense.

Sen. Ernest Hollings, (D-SC) along with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chair of the Committee
on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Olympia Snow (R-ME) and Bill Frist (R-TN),
recently introduced the bill, known as the Consumer Anti-Slamming Act of 1998.

If passed, the legislation would do the following:

  • prohibit a telecommunications carrier from changing a subscriber’s local or long distance service unless the carrier follows the verification procedures prescribed by the FCC;

  • require the FCC to prescribe verification rules to require the telecommunications carrier to keep an oral, written or electronic record of a subscriber authorizing a change in carrier;

  • require a telecommunications carrier to send a written notification to consumers informing them of the changed service;

  • require carriers to provide consumers with the information and procedures necessary to file a complaint with the FCC;

  • require the carrier to provide consumers with any evidence in its possession alleging that the change in a subscriber’s carrier was authorized;

  • provide for expedited complaint procedures at the FCC;

  • provide authority to states to seek injunctive relief and damages against slammers; and

  • authorize the FCC to recover any fines that are not paid by carriers.

In 1997, more than 20,000 consumers filed slamming complaints with the FCC, the largest
category of complaints it received.

In related news, AT&T has announced measures which it hopes will eradicate
slamming. Specifically, the company:

  • will voluntarily and unilaterally suspend the use of outside sales agents for consumer marketing efforts at local community events;

  • has established a slamming resolution center (800) 538-5345 to resolve any consumer slamming complaints involving AT&T; and

  • will charge companies that resell its network facilities for the cost of handling each valid customer slamming complaint they cause, as well as step up its monitoring of those companies’ marketing practices to ensure they are not misrepresenting themselves as AT&T.

Japan’s Forval Opens U.S. Subsidiary

By Paula Bernier

Responding to new rules that allow foreign carriers into the U.S. telecommunications
market, Japan’s Forval International Telecommunications Inc. has created a new U.S.
subsidiary to offer services to carriers in the United States.

"Now with deregulation moving to the United States, we’ll begin by being a
carriers’ carrier, terminating services into Asia," says Dean H. Cary, president and
CEO of Forval, which is based in Upper Saddle River, N.J.

The company turned up its DMS 250/300 switches in New York at the end of February and
is launching service over switches in Los Angeles this spring. The U.S. network will be
linked to Forval’s network in Japan via TPC-5 (TransPacific Cable No. 5) to deliver calls
between the United States and Japan/Asia over the company’s own network. Forval owns two
switches in Tokyo as well as one switch each in Osaka or Nagoya. The company is adding a
fifth switch in southern Japan later this year.

"We’ve presold all our existing capacity," says Cary, who adds Forval is
selling blocks of minutes to U.S. carriers. He declined to name Forval’s U.S. carrier

Cary says Forval is leading on quality rather than price.

"As international prices are coming down, so has quality. Our goal is to change
that," he says.

The company promises extremely fast call set-up time and high-quality connections.
Forval’s use of the C7 protocol, the international version of signaling system 7; major
switches; and intelligent networking will help ensure that performance, says Cary.

Forval may offer voice services over Internet protocol (IP) or asynchronous transfer
mode (ATM) links in the future, says Cary, after latency issues are addressed.

Hideo Ohkubo started Forval Corp., the parent company of both the Japan- and U.S.-
based Forval International Telecoms, about 18 years ago selling telephone, electronic and
computer systems in Japan. Following deregulation of the telecom market in Japan in 1985,
the company invented and sold services based on an internally developed dialer that always
called the least expensive carrier.

The company, which in November 1988 was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, holds the
record for being the fastest company to go from incorporation to being listed on the Tokyo
Stock Exchange.

In 1995, Forval International Telecom was established to serve small and medium
businesses and residential customers in Japan. The company now serves 114,900 customers in
Japan. Forval had $48 million in revenues in 1996, $78 million in revenues in 1997 and
expects to have $130 million in revenues this year.

PSINet Creates Organization
to Build Facilities for VOIP, Other Services

Internet service provider (ISP) PSINet Inc. has launched a new subsidiary called PSINet
Telecom Ltd., which will be responsible for building out the company’s voice over IP
(Internet protocol) network (VOIP), in addition to the rest of its network facilities.

According to Michael Binko, director of corporate communications, PSINet will have the
network facilities in place by the end of the June to allow it to offer VOIP services. But
when the actual commercial launch of VOIP services, which will be marketed by a separate
PSINet group, will be has not yet been announced, he adds.

PSINet Telecom, which has received a license from the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) to act as a facilities-based carrier and provide international telecommunications
services, will manage the transcontinental OC-12 fiber segments PSINet obtained from IXC
Communications and will own and manage all of PSINet’s TCP/IP network assets.

News Briefs

Tel-Save Holdings Inc. has engaged financial advisor Salomon
Smith Barney and is talking with various companies interested in buying the
telecommunications provider. Tel-Save would not comment as to whether America
Online, to whose online subscribers Tel-Save has been marketing telephone
services, is among the suitors.

The new report "The Telecom Service Provider: How Much Is It Worth" by Group
IV Inc., discusses parameters for valuing local telecommunications companies. For
more information on the $995 report call (602) 887-6793.

Frontier Communications is providing wholesale long distance and
calling card services to State Communications Inc. in a four-year deal
valued at $40 million. State Communications offers local, long distance and Internet
services primarily to residential customers in the southern United States.

IWL Communications Inc. has entered into an agreement to merge with CapRock
Communications Corp. and CapRock Fiber Network Ltd. in a deal
valued at approximately $106 million. CapRock is a facilities-based provider of switched
long distance services to other carriers, residential and business customers in the
Southwest. IWL provides communications services to customers, such as oil companies, in
remote areas including the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, Siberia, Africa and the Amazon.

Alcatel Submarine Networks, Tyco Submarine Systems Ltd. and Pirelli
Cables and Systems SpA signed a $236 million supply contract for the Columbus III
Cable system, which is scheduled for service in July 1999. The 10,000-kilometer subsea
fiber optic cable will link the United States with southern Europe via an initial 10
gigabit per second connection.

Sprint’s new Sprint Sense Home Office packages Sprint long distance
service, a toll-free 800 number and a Sprint FONCARD calling card. Pricing options include
1,000 minutes for $100 and 300 minutes for $45.

Roy Wilkens, founder and former CEO of WilTel, has
joined the board of directors for Qwest Communications International Inc.
Wilkens also serves as a member of the board of directors for PageNet (Paging Network
Inc.), UniDial Corp. and Invensys

Community Long Distance of Rock Hill S.C. recently selected the
communications accounting system (CAS) from Highland Lakes Software.
Community Long Distance is a switched-based long distance provider, and will use the CAS
billing system for their direct billing needs.

RSL COM Australia Pty. Ltd., a subsidiary of RSL
Communications Ltd., has agreed to acquire the customer bases of mobile
communications providers First Direct Communications Pty. Ltd. and Link
Telecommunications Pty. Ltd. in two separate transactions.

Telefonica, WorldCom Inc. and MCI Communications Corp.
will partner to create strategic business ventures that will leverage the three companies’
network and geographic strengths as they enter the telecom market in Europe and the

Gemini Submarine Cable System Ltd., a joint venture between Cable
& Wireless Inc. and WorldCom Inc. has begun delivering
customer services across its network. Gemini is the world’s first transatlantic network
designed to carry Internet, multimedia and voice services city-to-city between North
America and Europe.

US Buying Group, a switchless reseller, has purchased CostGuard, an
integrated rating, billing and customer care software package from Info Directions
Inc. to help manage a rapidly growing product line and customer base. Info
Directions also has released Version 1.7 of CostGuard with new options such as AgentWorks
to enhance the information flow from long distance companies to their agents.

Lucent Manages Major Bandwidth

By Peter Meade

Putting slow-to-market claims quickly to rest, Lucent Technologies Inc. made its second
optical networking announcement in six weeks with a network bandwidth management system it
says should save carriers serious time and money.

The announcement of the WaveStar Bandwidth Manager comes fast on the heels of Lucent’s
late January news of wave division multiplexing (WDM) gear that lets carriers send up to
400 gigabits per second (gbps) of traffic over a single fiber strand. "That
announcement was about capacity," says Gerry Butters, president of Lucent’s optical
networking business unit. "Now with that kind of capacity, you need network

BandWidth Manager gives carriers with extremely large amounts of bandwidth a way to
manage all their traffic–be it voice, data or video–in a simplified method. According to
Butters, that integrated approach will save carriers up to 60 percent in equipment costs
while shrinking central office space requirements by 85 percent.

"BandWidth Manager will eventually single-handedly route traffic–voice, ATM
(asynchronous transfer mode), IP (Internet protocol), video–from the largest central
offices to multiple locations," Butters says. It has the capacity of a half terabit,
which is equivalent to 6 million simultaneous voice calls.

Michael Arellano, an analyst with Degas Communications Group Inc., a New York-based
consultancy, praises the timing of the announcement. "It comes at a time when many
people are building alternative networks," he says. "(With BandWidth Manager),
they can evolve their networks whatever way the market demands. Some small vendors are
pushing their ATM, SONET (synchronous optical network) or IP bias. Where do you place your
bets? With BandWidth Manager, it doesn’t matter because it provides flexibility to cover
them all."

Flexibility also comes in the form of "pay as you go" bandwidth, Butter says.
Carriers can add as little as one circuit pack at a time to their network while being able
to perform in-service upgrades.

Lucent also announced its first BandWidth Manager customer, Tyco Submarine Systems
Ltd., even though the first version of the offering, which supports SONET or synchronous
digital hierarchy-based networks, will not be commercially available until the fourth
quarter. Butters says Lucent will deliver releases that will support dense WDM, ATM and IP
in 1999.

Elcotel Signs Distribution Agreements

Smart payphone manufacturer Elcotel Inc. has formed alliances with North Atlantic
Marketing (NAM) and International Cables and Connectors Corp. (ICC) for both companies to
distribute Elcotel products. The distribution agreements, effective immediately, will
target a new, broader customer base.

"It was extremely important for Elcotel to choose a distribution channel that will
be an extension to the reputation that Elcotel has formed with their customers; also, to
use it as a wider base of services to the growing customer base. It’s a business trust
that will go a long way to benefit both our ability to grow and deliver customer
satisfaction," says Hugh Durden, Elcotel’s vice president of sales.

Under the terms of the agreement, NAM and ICC will distribute Elcotel’s
microprocessor-based communication products and software, including the company’s smart
payphones, to new and existing customers in the domestic private payphone and public
communications markets.

Agent Show Growing

More than 300 independent agents and carrier representatives rallied to support the
agent channel during the AgENt (Agent Educational Network) Trade Fair in Houston, Texas,
Feb. 24-25.

The third in a series of regional conferences produced by Virgo Publishing Inc.
(publishers of PHONE+, X-CHANGE and Sounding Board magazines) brought
together a record number of master agents, agents, sub-agents and carrier representatives
interested in growing the agent channel collectively through educational seminars and
networking opportunities.

"I found the conference an excellent resource," says Kieren McCobb, president
of TeleConfusion Removal Inc, an independent telecommunications agency. "The sessions
were informative and the exhibit time was fruitful. I think it’s a much-needed forum that
is growing into something very special for the agent community."

Two dozen leading service providers exhibited at the event, networking with agents
during a cocktail party and luncheon sponsored by EqualNet, Atlas Communications, TMC and
WorldxChange. ACSI, MidAmerica Lists and TCG also sponsored the show, and WorldCom hosted
a special seminar and hospitality suite for agents interested in the transition from agent
to reseller.

Dan Baldwin of the One Plus Agent Association (OPAA), several agents and carrier
representatives participated in sessions covering new sales tactics, marketing strategies,
affinity programs, master agency issues, local telephone services and other subjects of
interest to agents. Agents also elected OPAA’s first board members and exchanged ideas on
how to make the conference more valuable in the future.

"The general consensus was to expand the show, and we’re doing just that ,"
says Bob Titsch Jr., editorial director of PHONE+, X-CHANGE and Sounding
Board magazines. "Based on the needs and wants expressed by agents in Houston,
we’re working in concert with the newly elected board members of OPAA to put together a
much broader educational program for the San Diego show."

The new and expanded AgENt Trade Fair will take place in San Diego, Calif., July 14-15.
Agents and carrier representatives interested in attending or exhibiting at the event can
call (602) 990-1101, ext. 1287.

Newly Elected OPAA Board Members

Bill Stevens,

Mayfair Group

Robin Back,

Travel Com

Mark Soloman/F. Paul Silicato,

Global Systems

Greg Praske/Bill Power,

Association Resource Group Inc.

Eric Bott,

Summons Conference Calling

John Marsch,


Bill Linsmeier,

Telecom One

Byron Russell/Larry Shear,


Dan Baldwin, chairman,


Shannon McCormack, director,


Bob Titsch/Marla Ellerman,

PHONE+ and X-CHANGE magazines

TRA Gears Up for Spring Show

Two years after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed into law to encourage
competition, new barriers have emerged in the form of legal challenges, law suits,
regulatory hurdles, operational problems and new fees.

The Telecommunications Resellers Association (TRA) is gearing up to address these
issues and others at its Spring Conference and Exhibition, May 11-14 at the San Francisco
Marriott in San Francisco.

The show’s theme is "overcoming adversity," with general sessions on state
regulatory issues, the financial condition of the industry and Internet telephony. Other
sessions will cover affinity marketing, operations support systems (OSS), reselling in
Europe and personal number services. TRA also will hold six breakout workshops in two
tracks–touching on long distance, local, wireless and international service issues.

William Saffire, chief political and Pulitzer prize-winning writer from the New York
Times, will make the keynote address.

TRA has sold out exhibit booths to approximately 150 vendors and expects more than
2,000 attendees, according to Ernie Kelly, president of the association.

For more information on the show, call (202) 835-9898.

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