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Managing Editor

SBC bundles in California

Jun 23, 20033 mins

SBC Communications this week launched a service package in California featuring unlimited local and long distance calling, as well as call management features, for $59 per month.

Called “Business Unlimited,” the plan for the first time offers 1 million small businesses in California unlimited local calling, SBC officials say. Additional offerings are available, including a $20-per-month unlimited SBC Long Distance calling plan with the purchase of a qualifying SBC local package.

The plan is designed to counter competitive inroads into SBC’s California territory from other RBOCs allowed to do business there, as well as IXCs, independents, and cable operators offering voice. It also eliminates the per-minute local calling fees that business owners in the state have traditionally paid, SBC claims.

“AT&T’s All in One and MCI entered California and began to compete with SBC’s residential dialtone services last year,” says Brian Washburn, an analyst at Current Analysis, in a report on SBC’s new bundle. “Earlier in 2003, MCI soft-launched its Business Complete product line, which is comprised of similarly priced local/long-distance service packages to SBC’s Business Unlimited, targeting small business owners in 20 states including California. SBC’s small business packages counter MCI and AT&T’s bundling bids.”

RBOCs are offering service bundles to retain and attract customers with flat monthly rate billing, streamlined billing, discounted services and claims of dramatic savings in telecom expense. But not all customers save money: studies have shown that only those customers with over 300 to 400 long distance minutes per month benefit from the flat monthly rate bundles.

SBC says 35% of its small business customers in California will benefit from Business Unlimited — most of those making between 350 and 575 minutes of long distance calls per month, depending on the plan the customer currently subscribes to.

Business Unlimited is targeted at enterprises with five or fewer phone lines. The $59 fixed monthly cost per line includes an access line, unlimited local and direct-dialed long distance calling (in-state and state-to-state), call waiting, call forwarding, three-way calling and remote access to call forwarding, and an inline wire repair service.

After the first line, additional lines can be added for less, SBC says, including a package for $44 that includes unlimited local and long distance calling (in-state and state-to-state), caller ID and the inline wire repair feature.

SBC plans to roll out similar Business Unlimited packages/plans in the Southwest region in late summer, and plans to begin offering an unlimited long distance offer in Nevada next week. SBC also plans to roll out Business Unlimited in the Midwest concurrent with approval to offer long distance services in those states.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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