For Telesphere's Clients, Dial `1 900 Tuf Luck'James E. Ellis
Back in 1987, Telesphere Communications Inc. was a third-tier long-distance phone company with a small but intriguing niche in 900 numbers. It was the first national carrier to offer interactive 900 numbers, which let consumers call in and use their phone keypads to select what they wanted to hear. As people flocked to the lines for entertainment, information, and titillation, Telesphere's sales skyrocketed. By last year, 900 services accounted for 59% of its $293 million in revenue. But just as the sometimes pricey pay-per-call programs have moved from novelty to nuisance for many consumers, Telesphere, too, has fallen out of favor. Now, with its 900 business shrinking, it's scrambling to keep an open line to the future.
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