Dennis E. Pauley is director of external relations for Ameritech’s West Central Illinois Region.
He is responsible for carrying out Ameritech’s public and community relation’s activities and serves as company spokesperson in his assigned communities.
Pauley is a veteran of 30 years in the telecommunications industry serving in a variety of capacities. In August of 1990 he was assigned to his present position.
He is on the board of directors of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and graduated from the Community Leadership School in 1987 and the Political Action School in 1988.
He is also on the board of directors of the Economic Development Council for the Peoria Area and the Better Business Bureau of Central Illinois. He has served and continues to serve on numerous boards in the West Central Illinois Region and is a Rotarian.
He and his spouse, Lois have six daughters: Michelle, Jennifer, Jacqueline, Stephanie, Rebecca and Elizabeth.
How many years has Ameritech been providing service to most of central Illinois?
For more than 100 years.
The communications industry has gone through tremendous change in the last decade. What new developments and infrastructure was needed to keep up with consumer demand in central Illinois?
As more and more businesses begin to use the Internet in their daily business routines via phone lines, what types of changes will need to be made to local infrastructure in the future?
As customer demands change, we continue to invest in new technology throughout our region.
Since 1994, we’ve invested more than $12 billion dollars in our five-state region, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. We’ve added hundreds of miles of fiber optic cable, digital switches and SONET technology throughout the state-from Chicago to Cairo and everywhere in between.
Fiber optics allows us to carry more telephone and data calls from customers and at higher speeds, with more reliability. Digital switches provide us with new services our customers ask for-such as voicemail, caller ID, call waiting and three-way calling.
Meanwhile, SONET rings provide customers with a self-healing communications system that can withstand mishaps-such as cable cuts-without interrupting service.
Internet usage on the Ameritech network is doubling every year, as is overall data traffic. To accommodate this growth and not interfere with the voice network, we are starting to move data off the voice network and onto a separate switch to handle those types of communications so our customers continue to have the utmost reliable service.
How long has Ameritech been looking for a partner? What is SBC’s background, and why did Ameritech decide a merger with such a company was necessary?
In the last two or three years, we looked at a number of possible combinations-some in which we initiated discussions, and some suggested by others. When asked about our intentions, we offered a consistent response.
We explained that although we investigated every possibility, we would never do a deal for the sake of the deal-we would only consider a combination where one plus one equaled at least three or four on behalf of our customers, our employees, and our shareowners.
With SBC, we believe we can achieve that equation and create a unique opportunity to increase value and accelerate growth. The excitement lies in the future, an excitement generated by our two companies’ remarkably similar strategic vision. Ameritech’s strong reputation and financial success have long made us a valued potential partner.
The merger of Ameritech and SBC will create a company with the scale, scope and resources necessary to give consumers the services, choices and innovation they want and need.
Ameritech and SBC will pool their resources, and their best practices, to offer customers expanded product choices, new and improved services, more competitive prices, and the convenience of one-stop-shopping for all of their telecommunications needs.
How will the merger impact local competition?
The Ameritech-SBC merger will increase telecommunications competition domestically and globally, and increased competition will work in the consumers’ interest and stimulate overall market growth.
The proposed Ameritech-SBC national-local strategy will provide local, long distance, and data services to customers in 30 cities not currently served by Ameritech or SBC, resulting in increased competition and expanded consumer choice in those new markets.
Ameritech-SBC will invest $2 billion in capital improvements, and plans have already been made to deploy new switches and fiber in those 30 cities.
That growth will also create 8,000 new jobs. This aggressive investment will force competitors to reciprocate, to work and compete harder to earn customers’ business in the Ameritech-SBC region. In fact, the mere development of the proposed national-local strategy has already begun to spur more competition.
Since the unveiling of national-local, mergers or alliances have been announced between Bell Atlantic and GTE, WorldCom and MCI, and among AT&T, TCI, and British Telecom. In addition, AT&T is actively pursuing alliances with cable television companies, including Time-Warner, to expand its reach and diversify its offerings.
The Ameritech-SBC national-local strategy will also expand competition by providing new and existing CLECs with the resources of a new facilities-based competitor.
In the international marketplace, Ameritech-SBC will have the scale, scope, and resources to compete in foreign markets, and enhanced strength to take on foreign telecommunications competitors in the American market.
The merger is expected to be complete in mid-1999. It has been suggested that Ameritech Chairman Richard C. Notebaert has been running a “political campaign” of sorts to divert any grass roots opposition to the merger. How influential is the general public on the decision of the ICC and SEC?
Thinly veiled consumer front group for long-distance giants, including AT&T, recently began airing more than $300,000 worth of paid TV advertising in Illinois to attack the proposed SBC-Ameritech merger, even though two polls commissioned by Ameritech and AT&T reveal increased consumer apathy to the merger.
The ads have been running in the Peoria-Bloomington, Springfield, Rockford and Chicago markets. Viewers are misled to believe the commercials are sponsored by a consumer group headed by Executive Director Gary Mack. As reported in a recent Chicago Tribune article, “Mack’s group is backed by long-distance phone companies like AT&T Corp.”
The ads are a desperate attempt by our competitors to mislead and confuse the public, disingenuously hiding behind so-called consumer groups whose sole purpose is to oppose the deal. AT&T and MCI control 80 percent of the long-distance market in this country, and they want to keep it that way to prevent consumers from having another competitive choice for single-source communications.
Various special interest groups, especially the long distance providers, also oppose the merger. Why?
The real question isn’t who is behind the opposition-it’s why. Why are the long-distance companies anxious to kill the Ameritech-SBC merger? If Ameritech and SBC fail to merge, who benefits?
The big three long-distance carriers are strongly opposed to the SBC-Ameritech merger because they don’t want to face real competition or expanded consumer choice in the telecommunications industry. It’s that simple.
They’ve had their mergers, enhanced their own abilities to invest, compete, and grow, and now they’re hoping to slam the door on competitors like Ameritech and SBC.
What will be the immediate, tangible benefits to local business owners from a merger between Ameritech and SBC?
The Ameritech/SBC merger is pro-consumer and pro-competition, and it will be an engine for growth in the midwest. The merger will create a company with the scale, scope, and resources to give consumers the services, choice, and innovation they want and need.
The merged companies will truly be an engine for growth-and increased competition-in the Midwest and Ameritech.
Competitor telecommunications companies-both domestic and foreign-are rapidly expanding, offering one-stop communications shopping and integrated service to customers with diverse needs and worldwide business interests.
Foreign telecommunications carriers like NTT, France Telecom, and Deutsche Telkom are aggressively pursuing alignments with American carriers to establish a beach head in the U.S.
Similarly, U.S.-based telecom giants AT&T and MCI-WorldCom are experiencing rapid growth and expansion. Ameritech-SBC and the midwest can either fall behind, or pool their resources and ensure our place in the global telecommunications market.
How will the merger affect Ameritech’s local workforce? Quality of service?
SBC pledged no net job loss in the Ameritech region due to the merger. In fact, Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr endorsed the merger, and said, “Our experience shows that we can trust SBC when it says the merger is about growth, not downsizing.”
Through the sharing of each company’s best practices, Ameritech-SBC will improve and enhance customer service-both companies are already telecommunications industry leaders in best practices and customer service.
Ameritech has been honored with a prestigious J.D. Powers Award for its wireless services, and is ranked as the phone company with the highest productivity. SBC has been nationally recognized as the industry’s most respected telecommunications provider. Since its merger with California’s Pacific Telesis, its service measurements, as reported to the California State Commission, have improved significantly.
J.D. Powers has also ranked Pacific Telesis the nation’s second-best local communications company.
By combining best practices, Ameritech-SBC will be able to increase their investments in augmented customer services, expanded deployment of new technologies, and fresh innovations.
You say the merger will provide for “increased innovation and technological advances” that Ameritech cannot provide on its own at this time. How will the merger provide for these advancements, and what will they include?
If the merger fails, does that mean Ameritech customers will be left behind as technology advances?
By combining resources and sharing technologies, Ameritech-SBC will be better equipped to offer consumers new products and services.
One needs only to look at Ameritech’s recent history to appreciate the relationship between enhanced resources and a company’s ability to provide customers with more and better services.
Between 1994 and 1998, Ameritech increased its capital expenditures by more than $1 billion, and Ameritech’s customers were the beneficiaries of that growth.
During those five years, Ameritech installed digital switches and high-speed data lines, created new cell sites for wireless services, expanded Internet services, and built a cable system.
Without its increased capital expenditures, many of Ameritech’s new services simply would not have been brought to market. SBC has its own impressive record of investing in technology to serve its customers.
Since its merger with California’s Pacific Telesis, capital expenditures increased by 20 percent, helping to deploy high-speed ADSL data lines and reduce the company’s product development time. Together, Ameritech and SBC will have the scale, scope, and resources to expand existing customer services, and offer new innovations. The combined companies will also have the ability to spread costs of developing new products over a larger customer base.
This will lower unit costs and bring innovation to the market faster. The stakes in this merger are very high and very real for Illinois and the Midwest.
As other telecommunication giants grow even bigger through their mergers, the last thing we can afford in the midwest is to be left behind. That would hurt consumers, who want innovation and new products and services. It would harm competition by allowing the few, big companies that now exist to dominate even more. And it would hurt our prospects for growth and job creation in Illinois.
Many central Illinois business and residential customers have been victims of “slamming” by long distance carriers. What can be done to prevent this in the future?
Long distance companies have perfected slamming into a fine art. Our customers are still complaining about the illegal practice of slamming, but the practice continues and is spreading.
Ameritech offers slamming protection. To request it, customers can simply call 1-800-SLAM-920 (1-800-752-6920) or the customer service number on their phone bill. Once a customer signs up, Ameritech can prevent most slammers from switching a customers’ account. The protection works for both long distance and local toll services.
Some slamming tips include the following:
- Never sign anything without reading it carefully.
- Don’t sign “cash bonus checks” or respond to contest offers without reading the fine print.
- If you receive a phone call about long distance or local toll service and you are not interested in switching your service, be sure to tell the caller that you are not interested in receiving their service.
- If someone sends you a letter or postcard verifying that you have switched services, notify them that you did not authorize the change. You can call Ameritech to see if your service-either long distance or local toll-has been changed.
- Read your phone bill carefully every month. If you see any unfamiliar names or charges you can’t identify, call the company or Ameritech.
While most managers understand the value of mergers and acquisitions to the company’s portfolio, the average citizen just wants dependable, low-cost service.
How can you reassure consumers their service will not be interrupted and rates will not go up?
The Ameritech-SBC merger will have no effect whatsoever on how rates are regulated. Both the Federal Communications Commission and state utilities commissions will continue to regulate rates and monitor and enforce service quality standards as they always have.
People are often frustrated by lengthy busy signals and mailbox choices when they encounter a problem or want to make a change to their Ameritech service. Perhaps the feeling of helplessness by the consumer in getting answers in a timely manner creates additional resistance to change-and opposition to the theory that “bigger is better.”
How will the merger address these concerns?
Ameritech and SBC have each been recognized for their superior commitment to quality and customer service. Together, Ameritech and SBC will combine their best practices to innovate and improve customer service.
SBC has a proven track record of pursuing growth to benefit consumers. Since SBC merged with California’s Pacific Telesis, performance was maintained or improved in key service categories, including a 60 percent improvement in repair times and 80 percent improvement in installation times.
How have the capabilities of Internet service providers to carry data and voice transmissions affected competition in the communications industry?
Internet telephony is not occurring at a significant volume at this time. Making phone calls over the Internet is still in its infancy.
We are testing the technology now with employees, and with our partners in Europe.
Companies are just starting to make the necessary equipment, but it still is a lot more complicated than simply picking up your phone. Also, our research customers tell us the quality of the calls still is not up to their standards. We will be ready to offer the service as well, once its quality meets our customers’ standards.
What, if any, are some of the misperceptions people have regarding this merger?
Ameritech will remain Ameritech, period. Ameritech will still be this region’s local communications company and a partner in the local communities it serves. The level and scope of Ameritech’s considerable charitable giving and community involvement will continue, and SBC both understands and appreciates Ameritech’s proud commitment to community service.
SBC Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre wrote a personal letter to Ameritech Chairman and CEO Richard Notebaert assuring SBC’s full support for Ameritech’s continued service to the local community after the merger is completed. And when it comes to community service, SBC’s actions speak even more loudly than its words-after SBC’s merger with Pacific Telesis, contributions to non-profit organizations doubled in just one year.
Finally, customers will continue to enjoy the Ameritech brand, as the company’s corporate and state headquarters will remain in place. The merger is expected to be approved in mid-1999. IBI