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For the sustainable transportation organization see: EMBARQ - The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport

Embarq Corporation, or EMBARQ was the largest independent local exchange carrier in the United Statesmarker (below the Baby Bells), serving customers in 18 states and providing local, long distance, high-speed data and wireless services to residential and business customers. It had been formerly the local telephone division (LTD) of Sprint Nextel. EMBARQ produced more than $6 billion in revenues annually, and had approximately 18,000 employees.

On October 27, 2008, EMBARQ announced that it would be acquired by Monroe, Louisianamarker-based CenturyTel, Inc. in an all-stock transaction valued at $11.6 billion, including the assumption of $5.8 billion in EMBARQ's debt. CenturyTel's CEO Glen Post will be CEO of the combined companies. On June 2, 2009, CenturyTel and Embarq announced that the combined entity would be called CenturyLink. The acquisition was completed on July 1, 2009.



The Sprint Corporation was founded in 1899 by Cleyson Leroy Brown under the name of the "Brown Telephone Company" in the small town of Abilene, Kansasmarker. The company was a landline telephone company that operated as a competitor to the Bell System.

In 1938, after emerging from bankruptcy, Brown changed its name to United Utilities. The company grew steadily through acquisitions and changed its name to United Telecommunications in 1972, at which time it provided local telephone service in many areas of the Midwest and South. United Telecom also operated many other types of businesses. In 1980 United Telecom launched a national X.25 data service, Uninet. To enter the long-distance voice market, United Telecom acquired ISACOMM in 1981 and US Telephone in 1984.

Southern Pacific Communications Company (SPCC), a unit of the Southern Pacific Railroad, began providing long-distance telephone service shortly after the Execunet II decision late in 1978. The Railroad had an extensive microwave communications system along its rights of way used for internal communications. In 1972, they began selling surplus time on that system to corporations for use as their own Private Line Network, thereby circumventing AT&T's then-monopoly on public telephony, later expanding to fiber optic cables laid along those same rights of way subsequent to the Execunet II decision late in 1978. Prior attempts at offering long distance service were not approved by the Federal Communications Commission, though the company's fax service (SpeedFAX) had been permitted. SPC was headquartered in Burlingame, Californiamarker (where Sprint still maintains a technology lab on Adrian Ct.).

As mentioned above, SPCC was only permitted to provide Private Line service and not switched services. When MCI Communications released EXECUNET, SPCC went to court with the FCC to get the right to offer switched services. The reason for the contest was to name the new switched service.

The SPRINT service was first marketed to six metropolitan areas, New Yorkmarker, Bostonmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Los Angelesmarker, San Diegomarker and Anaheimmarker. The switches were located in Los Angeles and New York. A customer, required to have a Private Line connection to one of these switches in order to use the service, paid an access fee per Private Line. The customer was then billed at 2.6 cents per tenth of a minute increment.

Southern Pacific Communications became part of GTE in 1982 under the name GTE Sprint. GTE had previously acquired a national X.25 provider, Telenet, in 1979.

In 1986, GTE Sprint was merged with GTE Telenet, US Telecom, Uninet, and ISACOMM to form US Sprint. This was a partnership owned by GTE and United Telecom. In 1989 United Telecom purchased controlling interest in US Sprint. In 1991 United Telecom completed its acquisition of US Sprint. That same year United Telecom changed its name to Sprint due in large part to the increased brand recognition of Sprint, as a result of the successful Candice Bergen "Dime Lady" advertisement campaign.

In 1983, United Telecom's Telespectrum began offering cellular telephone services in United's territories. In 1988 Telespectrum was sold to Continental Telecom (Contel) to fund United's purchase of an additional 30% of US Sprint. This purchase gave United operational control of US Sprint. Contel was subsequently acquired by GTE.

In 1993, Sprint merged with Centel, which allowed Sprint to provide local service in a total of 18 states and put them back in the wireless.

In late 1994 and early 1995, Sprint via Sprint Spectrum (a joint venture between Sprint and several cable companies) acquired near nationwide PCS spectrum. Later in 1995, the company began to offer wireless service under the Sprint PCS brand.

On October 5, 1999, Sprint and MCI WorldCom announced a $129 billion merger agreement between the two companies. The deal would have been the largest corporate merger in history at the time. However, the deal did not go through because of pressure from the United States Department of Justicemarker and the European Union on concerns of it creating a monopoly.

In 2003, Sprint began recombining their local telecom, long distance, wireline, and wireless business units into a new company, marketing the combined company as "One Sprint." In April 2004, the separately traded wireless tracking stock, "PCS," was absorbed into the New York Stock Exchangemarker (NYSE) "FON" ticker symbol, Sprint's former ticker symbol. (FON stood for "Fiber Optic Network," which was Sprint's bragging right, but was also a homophone of the word "phone"). This was challenged in many lawsuits by Sprint PCS shareholders who felt robbed because their stock was devalued through the ratio of 1 share of PCS stock for 1/2 share of FON stock. The PCS shareholders claimed a loss of 1.3 billion to 3.4 billion dollars. Sprint recently agreed to settle with the shareholders for only 57.5 million dollars. This is Sprints third class action settlement reached in recent weeks as of September 25, 2007. Sprint settled an age discrimination lawsuit for 57 million dollars with former employees earlier in September of 2007.[242553]

Merger of Sprint PCS and NEXTEL

Sprint PCS and NEXTEL merged to form Sprint Nextel Corporation. The local telecom division became Embarq.

Current Coverage

EMBARQ's coverage territory includes that of the former ILEC companies of Carolina Telephone & Telegraph, United Telephone Company, and Centel (Central Telephone Company), which combined were part of the Local Telecom Division of Sprint Nextel prior to the spinoff of ILEC assets into EMBARQ. While the EMBARQ corporation was recently established, the company's heritage goes back to 1899. At that time, the genesis company was named Brown Telephone Company.

Embarq provides its local service in 19 states through Embarq Operating Companies.


Embarq places focus on sales of four strategic products: telephone service, high-speed internet, and DISH Network satellite TV. Embarq offers bundled services to customers, with the convenience of one monthly bill and provides discounts to customers for adding additional services.

Embarq telephone service is a traditional Plain-old telephone system (POTS). Common offerings include features such as caller id, call waiting, 3-way calling, call forwarding, voice mail, and anonymous call rejection.

Embarq offers many long distance plans, including available unlimited domestic direct-dialed calling.

Depending on market and geographical region, Embarq offers several technologies under the high-speed internet name. Embarq covers the majority of their territory with ADSL at speeds of 768 Kbit/s, 1.5 Mbit/s, 3.0 Mbit/s, or 5.0 Mbit/s as line conditions allow. In September 2007 Embarq began offering 10.0 Mbit/s to customers in Las Vegas. Beginning in January 2008, Embarq released the 10 Mbit/s tier across their entire footprint. Additional markets, such as parts of Las Vegas, Nevadamarker, North Carolinamarker and Floridamarker are serviced through fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP).

Embarq has an established partnership with EchoStar-owned DISH Network. Embarq offers a comprehensive lineup of DISH services to its customers. Discounts are available when eligible DISH programming is bundled with other qualifying Embarq products. In addition to the DISH Network partnership, Embarq also plans to test a TV service (tenatively called Embarq TV) in the near future. Details are scarce, but the service is rumored to be an IPTV fiber-to-the-node service similar to AT&T's U-verse. Testing has been completed and Embarq/CenturyLink has rolled out IPTV to its customer base in Jefferson City, MO. IPTV rolled out to Jefferson City, MO in October of 2009. CenturyTel is providing its IPTV feed to the Jefferson City swtiching office from its service in Columbia, MO.

Embarq provides wireless phone service only for business accounts; they recently closed the residential wireless and are not accepting new wireless accounts. Embarq provides business wireless phone service throughout much of its territory. Embarq operates as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) for Sprint PCS. Embarq utilizes the CDMA band, and their handsets connect primarily to Sprint PCS towers. However, Embarq handsets are also capable of roaming onto CDMA networks from other carriers.

Embarq DSL customers were offered free Earthlink services until the formation of In 2007, Embarq customers were required to switch to Myembarq and Embarqmail.

Recent Criticisms

Embarq previously worked with NebuAd, a Behavioral Targeting advertising company to track customers' internet browsing habits. The goal was to deliver relevant ads based on browsing history. This has raised several legal and privacy concerns, along with the other internet providers using NebuAd and related services such as Charter Communications and WOW!. Embarq's use of NebuAd prompted a letter from Congressman Edward Markey. Embarq's response to Congressman Markey's letter can be found here. Embarq now claims that its participation with NebuAD was a trial, and that they are not currently using NebuAd for behavioral targeted advertising.


See Also

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