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A telecommunications firm is now offering U.S. servicemembers and civilians in Europe long-distance phone packages based on fixed prices that are less than regular direct-dial rates, a company official announced.

The program, called “Flat Rate Europe,” is available to Americans living in Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece and Turkey, said Michael Sedge, an Italian-based representative for Dial Thru International Corporation, which is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Under the plan, customers pay a fixed monthly fee for a set number of hours of phone time to the United States. In Italy, for example, the monthly fee for two hours of line time is $9.98, Sedge said. Prices vary between countries, he added, but the rates still trump anything else going.

“The military market is very competitive,” Sedge said in a telephone interview this week, “but everybody wants a piece of it.”

Americans in Europe have other options, though not as many as a few years ago, when discount long-distance telephone companies seemed to pop up over night. Most failed.

One of those was Rapid Link, whose assets DTI acquired in bankruptcy court in October 2001. That purchase by DTI opened the door to the lucrative military market in Europe.

“What I’m trying to focus on are these little niche markets,” Sedge said.

In addition to the monthly fixed-rate concept, DTI is also offering to its customers in Germany a similar program for cellular telephones.

Besides DTI, the main discount phone outlet is Mil-Tel Communications Inc. AT&T, which holds an exclusive contract with the military in Europe, is the other principal player in the phone book.

A call to an Army legal assistance office in Italy found no outstanding complaints against DTI, a publicly held company. Military communities across the theater monitor local businesses frequented by Americans and will, if necessary, alert the community if a business makes the “off-limits” list for security reasons or questionable business practices.

The world of discount telephone service “is a competitive business,” Sedge said, “but there is a need out there.”

— For more information on DTI's flat rate plan, send an e-mail to:

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