AT&T ADDS 10/MINUTE RATE PLAN

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AT&T Corp. on May 26 launches AT&T One Rate Plus, offering 10 cents per minute calling rates 24 hours a day. The introduction is supported with a new TV spot featuring actor/AT&T product spokesman Paul Reiser.

The commercial from Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, has Mr. Reiser on top of a mountain, away from distractions, to introduce the new product. But a mountain climber peeks overs the edge of the cliff and asks, "Did you say 10 cents a minute, dude?"

AT&T's current One Rate plan costs 15 cents per minute with no monthly charge. The new plan is 10 cents per minute but carries a $4.95 monthly charge.

Flat 10 cents per minute pricing was introduced by Sprint Corp. in 1996, although that Sprint rate is limited to nights and weekends.

AT&T's new One Rate Plus may be just the beginning of a sea change at AT&T, with the phone leader OK to follow the competition.

Last week, Chairman-CEO C. Michael Armstrong told the AT&T annual meeting he wants to pursue marketing agreements with the Baby Bells. An AT&T spokesman said the company sent out letters to all the Baby Bells and GTE Corp. asking for a meeting to talk about marketing opportunities.

Just a week before Mr. Armstrong's speech, AT&T had filed a lawsuit against Qwest Communications over its proposed long-distance co-marketing deals with Ameritech Corp. and U S West.

A company spokesman called the new attitude at AT&T "a noticeable degree of practicality and less of a reliance on precedence."

Mr. Armstrong also told shareholders AT&T may start its own dial-around service. AT&T said it loses about $1 million per day to dial-around services.

Althought AT&T had fired back at MCI Communications Corp.'s 10-321 service with comparative price advertising, the AT&T spokesman said that spending those ad dollars to market a service of its own seems to be the direction Mr. Armstrong wants to take.

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