In the telecommunications industry, there is only one market that remains closed to true competition: the long distance market. An opening of this market to competitors, such as SBC Ameritech, could provide customers with more choices, better prices, and innovative services.

As customers in 15 other states like New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Kansas discovered, when the local phone company enters into the long distance market, prices almost immediately fall. Adding another competitor to Illinois’ long distance market, made up largely of AT&T, MCI WorldCom, and Sprint, would help to facilitate true competition in the marketplace. Meanwhile, Illinois’ long distance customers continue to pay higher and higher long-distance bills because all providers are not free to compete.

An independent study done by the Telecommunications Research Center (TRAC) in Washington D.C. estimated Illinois consumers will save between $129 million and $457 million, depending on their calling patterns, once SBC Ameritech Illinois is able to provide long distance service.

The people of Illinois deserve better. We deserve better choices in long distance providers and the convenience of one-stop shopping for all of our telecommunication needs. Customers should have the ability to pick whichever company they want, including SBC Ameritech, for local and long distance telephone service.

The time has come to open the last closed market in the telecommunications industry. It’s time to allow the people of Illinois the freedom to choose who will provide truly competitive telecommunication services. Free competition and free choice benefit all. Without competition, no one wins. IBI