SBC Simplifies Brand, Offerings

SBC Communications , a provider of voice, high-speed data and networking services, is bringing its subsidiaries under a single brand to clear up any customer confusion and better compete with rivals at the national level.

Previously, the company marketed its services through regional brands SBC Ameritech, SBC Nevada Bell, SBC Pacific Bell and SBC Southwestern Bell.

“Adopting a single, unified SBC brand underscores our transformation from a collection of regional companies with separate identities into a national telecommunications leader with a single identity,” SBC CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. said.

The strategy will be supported by print ads beginning tomorrow and TV spots next month.

“Because awareness of SBC is already high among our customers and because we started phasing in SBC three years (ago), we do not need to spend much to introduce the brand change,” SBC spokesman Larry Solomon told internetnews.com.

An exception is Connecticut, where the SBC SNET brand will continue to be used (a result of a merger agreement). SBC will also continue to offer wireless service through Cingular Wireless, its joint venture with BellSouth.

But more than a change in corporate stationary, the move, in conjunction with other initiatives, represents a national push on for the San Antonio, Texas-based company.

Last week, SBC purchased routing gear from Cisco to expand its Internet protocol network outside its 13-state base in the Southwest.

And two weeks ago, SBC standardized pricing for services such as frame relay , ATM and private line offerings to appeal to business who have multiple offices. A residential bundled service, called Total Connections, is also being offered in all SBC’s areas.

SBC is also working to gain regulatory approval that would allow it to connect to 30 networks in markets including Boston, Miami and New York. The strategy could also yield cost savings as SBC consolidates some call centers over the next two years.

Robert J. Rich, a vice president with Yankee Group, a Boston IT research firm, said the transition to a common brand is “an important step forward” for the company. He noted that SBC has used mergers, acquisitions and partnerships (most notably its co-branded DSL service with Internet portal Yahoo) to transform itself from a “sleepy local telephone company” to a national player.

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