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AT&T Communications, Inc. is an IXC/long distance telephone company owned by AT&T.


AT&T Long Lines

The American Telephone & Telegraph Long Lines wire, cable, and microwave radio relay network provided long-distance transport services to AT&T and its customers from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. Formal opening of the coast to coast connection was on August 17, 1951. A sophisticated achievement, Long Lines provided computerized reconfiguration of microwave circuits coast-to-coast via AT&T's network control center in New York Citymarker, NYmarker. By the 1970s, Long Lines carried 95 percent of all long-haul television traffic, and 70 percent of intercity telephone calls in the United Statesmarker.

Before utilizing microwave relay and coaxial cables, AT&T used heavy-duty carrier grade open-wire lines for Long distance service. In 1911 the system connected New York to Denver. The introduction of vacuum tube amplifiers in 1914 allowed such connections to reach across North America. In the 1930s the company experimented with long-distance coaxial (coax) cable. The first long-distance L-carrier coaxial link in 1936 connected Philadelphiamarker and New Yorkmarker. With improved Klystrons and other devices devised for World War II it was quickly determined that microwave relay networks were less expensive and easier to build, especially over mountainous regions and rough terrain, and Long Lines evolved into a hybrid network. L-4 and L-5 coaxial systems connected all major US cities, and a digital millimeter waveguide system connected New York to Philadelphia, but the primary medium was C band microwave air links.
AT&T Long Lines logo, 1939-1964

A presidential address from Harry Truman inaugurated the Long Lines network, demonstrating coast-to-coast service. The Long Lines network allowed events such as ABC’s Monday Night Football to be nationally broadcast live and Long Lines also permitted distribution of regional sports events, such as Saturday football games prior to the adaptation of satellite communications in the 1970s.

By the 1980s, alternatives (including fiber optics and satellites) were replacing microwave as the preferred network transport, but the remnants of the Long Lines microwave network can still be seen across the country-side today, in the form of abandoned relay towers, or towers being employed for other purposes (for example, public safety communications and cellular phone sites).

Direct Distance Dialing

In 1950, New York Citymarker's five boroughs were dialed from various communities in New Jerseymarker with the digits '1-1' followed by the 7 digit telephone number. While New York City was assigned Area code 212marker at the very beginning of the Area Code format in October 1947, it wouldn't be until later in the 1950s when Englewood, New Jerseymarker customers would dial their calls to New York City using the digits 2-1-2. The use of the '11+' code from Englewood (and other parts of northeastern New Jersey) to call New York City had been in place for a while, even prior to 1951. New York City's five boroughs also had been dialing northeastern New Jersey as 11+ the two letters and five digits of the New Jersey number as well for a while prior to 1951 and until the later 1950s.

The telephone industry made a United States "first" in the New Jersey communities of Englewood and Teaneck with the introduction of what is known now as Direct distance dialing (DDD). Starting on November 10, 1951, customers of the ENglewood 3, ENglewood 4 and TEaneck 7 exchanges (who could already dial New York City and area) were able to dial 11 cities across the United States, simply by dialing the three-digit area code and the seven digit number.

The use of Area code 201 to call New Jersey from New York City didn't begin until the later 1950s. Englewood and Teaneck customers in 1951 didn't even know that their own area code was 201! Other cities in northeastern New Jersey, both local and toll, were dialable in 1951 (and for a few years prior) from Englewood by simply dialing the two letters of the Exchange Name and remaining five digits. In addition to New York City, the Nassau Countymarker part of Long Islandmarker was dialable from Englewood and Teaneckmarker using Area code 516marker; also Westchester Countymarker, Rockland Countymarker, and portions of Orangemarker and Putnammarker Counties were also dialable from Englewood and Teaneck in 1951 using Area code 914marker.

Even when most users had Direct Distance Dialing, the company continued to advertise with the slogan "The voice with a smile" referring to the operators.

Early in the 20th century the telephone companies organized a "Separations and Settlements" process by which Long Lines and the local companies, Bell and Independent, divided the revenues of long distance calls according to their respective costs. The mid-century advent of microwave and other high capacity systems dramatically cut the cost of long-haul operations, but pricing did not decline proportionally. Rather, the local fraction of revenue sharing rose to subsidize local service. This system became obsolete with the rise of competitive long distance and the later abolition of the Bell System.

AT&T Communications

Long Lines was renamed AT&T Communications in 1984 since it no longer consisted of the majority of the "lines", or the Bell Operating Companies. AT&T Communications became one of the three core sales units of AT&T, after reorganization of remaining assets of the former Bell System.

AT&T divided AT&T Communications up into operating companies, serving the regions of each Bell Operating Company, resulting in:
  • AT&T Communications of California, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Delaware, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Hawaii, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Illinois, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Indiana, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Maryland, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Michigan, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Nevada, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of New England, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of New Jersey, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of New York, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Ohio, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Pennsylvania, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of the Midwest, Inc. - serves Northwestern Bell territory
  • AT&T Communications of the Mountain States, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of the Pacific Northwest, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of the South Central States, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of the Southern States, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of the Southwest, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Virginia, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Washington D.C., Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of West Virginia, Inc.
  • AT&T Communications of Wisconsin, Inc.

Following the Telecommunications Act of 1996, AT&T Communications began reselling Bell Operating Company-provided telephone service at lower prices, to compete with the Baby Bells. Such services were done through AT&T Consumer, a new sales unit created to incorporate local/long distance services provided by AT&T Communications.

In 2004, AT&T stopped trying to seek new traditional landline customers, following a court ruling which reversed a previous decision that allowed CLECs to have access to the telephone lines owned by the Baby Bells. As a result, AT&T CallVantage was created, as a VoIP alternative to companies like Vonage. AT&T Communications would still provide services to new customers, although they would not be advertised heavily.

AT&T/SBC Communications Merger

In 2005, SBC Communications purchased AT&T Corp., the parent company of AT&T Communications. SBC had already been offering its own long distance services through SBC Long Distance LLC in its own territory in competition with other long distance companies. As a result, AT&T Communications was refocused to seek new customers outside of the AT&T 13-state region served by its Bell Operating Companies.


A division of AT&T Communications, the Lucky Dog Phone Company provided a pay-as-you-go long distance phone service for in-state, state-to-state, and international calls (via a 10-10-345 prefix) with charges added to the caller's regular monthly phone bill.


AT&T Communications is headquartered in Bedminster, New Jerseymarker at the AT&T Network Operations Center.

See also


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