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Sprint tests Total Number service

Sprint is planning to rev up the long-distance phone wars later this month by offering its customers a single seven-digit phone number that can be used as a business, cellular, pager, and fax number.

Sprint is planning to rev up the long-distance phone wars later this month by offering its customers a single seven-digit phone number that can be used as a business, cellular, pager, and fax number.

The service, called Total Number, will initially be available to telephone users in the metropolitan Orlando, Florida, area for about $20 per month. If the service proves popular, the company will expand it to other areas, but Sprint has not yet set a time table for that.

Total Number will let users program in their schedules via phone so that incoming calls can be routed to wherever they are at a given hour. The Total Number would dial a mobile phone, for example, during the morning commute, a business number from 9 a.m. to noon, and a pager during lunch. Total Number will also include a screening feature that will give users the option of accepting or denying a call.

Sprint's new service will compete with a similar service from Wildfire Communications called the Wildfire Electronic Assistant, which hit the market in late 1994. Like Sprint's Total Number, Wildfire Electronic Assistant is available as a consumer service, but companies can buy the Wildfire system for $50,000 and set up their own service for their employees.