TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: GTE, Sprint, United, Centel, Contel, Nextel, etc.

Re: GTE, Sprint, United, Centel, Contel, Nextel, etc.

Al Gillis (
Sat, 7 Jan 2006 07:15:03 -0800

Anthony -- That's a great history! Thanks for taking time to "shine a
light" onto that part of our past!

Pat -- I think posting Anthony's article in the History section of the
TELECOM Digest Archives would be a great idea!


Anthony Bellanga <> wrote in message

> PAT -- please suppress my email address in the "from" line, and any
> other place it might appear!

> Al Gillis wrote:

>> TELECOM Digest Editor wrote:

>>> The (S)outhern (P)acific (R)ailroad (I)nternal (N)etwork
>>> (T)elecommunications Department of that railroad -- or S.P.R.I.N.T.
>>> for short -- did a major re-build of their trackside telephone
>>> system in the late 1960's. They did such a good job of it, they had
>>> a huge anount of left-over capacity and decided to lease it out to
>>> other businesses and companies. That was the original Sprint, which
>>> a few years later got into residential telecom service as well, and
>>> has now -- 2005 -- gone through many changes in ownership and
>>> management. About 1998 or so, Sprint bought the United Telephone
>>> Company which serves a lot of northern Kansas among other
>>> territories. PAT]

>> BZZZZZT! Sorry, Pat, it was the other way around!

>> United Telephone, based in the Kansas City, KS area (maybe Overland
>> Park) bought SPRINT and then assumed the name, much like the recent
>> changes at SBC/AT&T.

>> United Telephone owned numerous local operating telephone companies
>> around the US of A. In my area it was United Telephone of the
>> Northwest. There was a United Telephone of Ohio, United Telephone of
>> Florida, and others with the "United Telephone of..." name. There
>> were still others as well, like Carolina Telephone, which operated in
>> North and South Carolina. Possibly the largest city in SPRINT's
>> stable in Las Vegas, NV.

> Southern Pacific Railways began to offer "common carrier" telecom
> services (SPRINT) during the 1970s era, paralleling what MCI had also
> begun doing. At first, it was private line services, but over time,
> combinations of private line with switched long haul services emerged,
> and finally "fully switched" OCC (Other Common Carrier) services.

> In the early 1980s, GTE bought out SPRINT from Southern Pacific
> Railways. In the early 1980s, their 950-xxxx feature group 'B' dial-up
> access number was 950-0777, the '777' for 'SPR', and their initial
> post-divestiture feature group 'D' equal-access dial-around code was
> 10-777.

> Also happening during the early 1980s was that the independent telco
> group owner United (which was one of about four or five or six of the
> larger ones, the others being GTE, Contel, Centel, and also Alltel,
> CenturyTel, PTI, etc) was developing their own 'OCC' long-distance
> network called "US Telecom". Their access number was (is) 950-1033,
> and their dial-around was 10-333 (now 101-0333).

> In 1986, GTE and United decided to "join forces" and merge their OCC
> long-distance networks. The new joint-venture would be called "US
> Sprint", owned 50/50 by GTE and United. It would take some time for
> the networks and billing departments of "US Sprint" to be properly
> merged and operating "seamlessly". In the first couple of years of "US
> Sprint", there were numerous billing errors! (Not that they didn't
> have significant billing errors or broken promises throughout the
> 1990s as well!).

> After a year or two of the "US Sprint" joint-venture of GTE and
> United, GTE suddenly announced that they "wanted out" of Sprint. It
> was decided that over the next five or so years, that United would
> slowly buy out GTE's ownership of "US Sprint". So, every year, if you
> read the reports of who owned what, United would have larger shares of
> Sprint, and GTE would have less.

> By 1992 or so, GTE had completely exited Sprint, with United owning
> all of Sprint. Also about the same time, GTE and Continental Telephone
> (Contel) merged, with the GTE name surviving. There were long time
> Contel service areas sold off, as well as some long-time GTE service
> areas sold off too, to comply with antitrust laws. Alltel and Citizens
> Tel bought up these one-time GTE and Contel service areas. There were
> also a few Alltel areas that were sold to GTE at the same time, sort
> of a "swap" of some GTE/Contel and Alltel areas! Also during the
> 1992/93 time period, United also bought out Central Telephone
> (Centel). Some legacy Centel areas included Tallahassee FL, large
> areas of Virginia, parts of Illinois (including the one-time
> Step-by-Step Chicago suburbs of Park Ridge and Des Plaines, later sold
> in 1996 to Illinois Bell/Ameritech now SBC/AT&T), and the Las Vegas NV
> Metro area. The combined United (which now owned 100% of Sprint) with
> Centel, changed its name to Sprint around 1993.

> The Sprint Local Telco areas of southern, central, and also scattered
> in parts of northern Florida is mostly all legacy United. Tallahassee
> FL and a few other areas of northwestern (panhandle) FL are legacy
> Centel.

> Sprint has also become involved in Cellular.

> Sprint-Canada was a marketing name of Call-Net (Canada), a CLEC and
> Canadian-based OCC (competitive Long Distance carrier). More recently,
> Rogers (which at one time was in a venture with the old Unitel, also
> once known as AT&T-Canada), has bought out Call-Net in Canada. I think
> that the Rogers name will replace the Sprint-Canada and the Call-Net
> names.

> Earlier in 2005, Sprint bought out Nextel wireless. It's going to take
> some time before the Nextel name is completely replaced with the
> Sprint name, but Sprint did announce that it was retaining wireless
> and long distance. The legacy incumbent local telco operation (once
> known as United and Centel) is going to be spun-off to a new entity
> altogather but the name of this entity is still TBA.

> At the time that Sprint tookover Nextel, the red/white "diamond" logo
> (in use since 1986 with the GTE and United joint-venture of US-Sprint)
> was abandoned (although it will take time for embedded advertizing
> signage, etc. to be completely replaced), the new Sprint-Nextel logo
> being black, with black text, on a yellow background (similar to
> pre-merger Nextel), the black logo itself now being something that
> looks like bird-feathers fuffling or book-pages being rifled.

> So, Sprint has had quite a colorful history dating back over 30 years.
> And I'm defining Sprint by the OCC long distance aspect of the company
> and name. Its one time owner United has a history that does indeed go
> back over 100 years, as an independent local telephone company that
> seems to have begun in the Kansas area in the 1890s or early 1900s.

> And it was around 1992/93 (NOT 1998), that United changed its name to
> Sprint, since United now owned all 100% of Sprint, in the transition
> completely from GTE ownership over to United ownership.

> - anthony bellanga

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I think so also, and did that earlier
on Saturday. His message (and another one about the 'ten-ten' access
code numbers) is in the History section of the Telecom Archives as of
now. Thanks for the mention however; I might have otherwise
overlooked it. PAT]

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