"AT&T, how may I help you." For those who wish to call abroad this computerized welcome is well-known. But as little as three years ago, there was no guarantee that dialing out would actually get through the mess of old telephone lines which delayed or even halted phone traffic in Slovakia. "People used to have to try 10 to 15 times before they got through outside of Slovakia," said Ondrej Demek from AT&T Communications Services office in Vienna. "Now it's no problem on the first try."
AT&T controls 60 percent of the phone traffic that comes out of Slovakia through their international network. This ensures that 60 percent of incoming calls to Slovakia from the US must go through AT&T lines as well. "It's a win, win situation for all," said Ján Adamec from Slovak Telecom's (ST) international division.
Boosting this market share came about through AT&T's jump into Slovakia to help improve the technology of Slovak phone lines. The old AT&T equipment division (before last year's split) helped ST install 90 fiber optic phone circuits to strengthen lines for better connections and sound quality.
After AT&T's split into three companies, a new AT&T was formed that kept its world renowned name and logo and concentrated on competing in international phone traffi and selling internet servers, digital satellite access, and wireless cellular phones. This AT&T moved its representative to Slovakia to Vienna to monitor phone traffic in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
AT&T has helped ST install new features for its customers. PAY 800 allows callers from Slovakia to call 1-800 numbers in the USA but at regular prices. It wasn't possible to call 800 numbers a year ago. ST also offers operated assisted calls where billing is charged to the recipient of the call.
9. Oct 1996 at 0:00 | Daniel J. Stoll