Jumbled Long-Distance Lines

Telephone competition turns into toll-call chaos

Bewildered Americans have waited by their telephones for a year and a half to hear of some concrete benefit from the breakup of the Bell System in January 1984. Up to now, many people thought the only results were nearly indecipherable phone bills, baffling repair procedures and higher charges for local service and directory assistance. Last week came still more confusion.

Industry leader American Telephone & Telegraph, which has more than 90% of long-distance business, put a 5.6% rate cut into effect. MCI Communications of Washington (1984 revenues: $2 billion) followed with a cut of up to 11% on rates starting...

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