In a battle of cents, GTE is the latest long-distance company to weigh in with a flat-rate plan.
The fledgling long-distance service on Wednesday announced its One Easy Rate plan - a flat rate of 14 cents a minute for long-distance calls.
GTE's flat rate is a penny cheaper than the One Rate plan offered by AT&T, the nation's largest long-distance company.
While GTE is the nation's biggest provider of local telephone service, it only recently entered the long-distance field, where it is a relatively minor player.
Residential customers of GTE will be able to make direct-dialed long-distance calls anytime and anywhere in the United States for 14 cents a minute.
The plan has no monthly minimums or enrollment fees and is initially available to consumers in its 27-state territory. GTE plans to extend the 14-cent flat rate to other states based on consumer demand.
Flat-rate plans appeal to customers who make the majority of their long-distance calls during the day and high-peak times, said Robert McCoy, president of GTE's long-distance division.
"This plan truly takes the guesswork out of long-distance calling," Mr. McCoy said. "No more watching the clock, waiting for discount rates to take effect."
Sprint began the long-distance battle with its Sprint Sense rate of 10 cents a minute on calls made between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and on weekends. MCI True Rate offers a flat rate of 14.5 cents a minute for long-distance calls anytime and anywhere in the country.
Last month, GTE introduced its flat-rate plan for business customers, which also offers rates as low as 14 cents per minute.
GTE began offering long-distance service in March 1996 after the passage of the Telecommunications Act, which opened up local and long-distance markets to competition.
By the end of last year, GTE provided long-distance service to more than 800,000 customers nationwide.
The One Easy Rate plan will be offered in South Carolina and Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.