Focal Communications and Sprint announced Tuesday that they have agreed to swap traffic directly between each other's networks. The deal gives customers of both companies pathways to alternative phone services rather than going through the "Baby Bell" local phone networks, potentially saving the companies and customers money. For example, Focal customers in Texas would be able to access Sprint's network for long-distance directly rather than linking through Southwestern Bell, which is a part of SBC Communications.
The deal also allows Sprint access to some local phone customers without going through the Bells. The agreement covers four states and six of Focal's markets in Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth, Texas; Minneapolis; northern New Jersey; and Seattle, and it allows Focal access to other Sprint networks in the future. Focal offers local phone service to businesses in 24 metropolitan markets, while Sprint competes with AT&T and WorldCom in the long-distance market.