Bits & Bytes
`HI, MOM. I SURVIVED ANDREW--AND THIS CALL IS FREE'
Although Hurricane Andrew destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, Miami-based Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. figures that roughly 98% of the telephone network in Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties survived the onslaught. And while phone company employees work to get the rest of the network functioning, Southern Bell is offering customers free access to several advanced phone services.
On Aug. 27, the unit of BellSouth Corp. announced that it would offer voice mail--an electronic answering-machine service--to home and business owners who lost telephone service because of fallen wires. For customers who lost their homes and phones, Southern Bell can forward calls to any number where hurricane victims are staying temporarily. Or, if they've relocated to another county, an automated voice will tell callers the new number. All three services will be offered free for one month, says Southern Bell. American Telephone & Telegraph Co. is also helping by providing coinless phone banks and cellular phones for free long-distance calls. AT&T said that a record 563.5 million calls were placed over its worldwide network during the four days Andrew blew through the U.S.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG