The Pacific Bell arm of Pacific Telesis Group Inc is to begin testing an electronic messaging service, called Connection, which it plans to offer to all its residential customers. Connection will implement the X400 message handling standard and a trial is scheduled to run through to next March. After a little fine tuning, Pacific Bell hopes to open the service to the general public by mid-1989. The trial will connect four user sites: Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley; the Foundation Health Plan up in the state capital, Sacramento; administrators and disabled people associated with the Easter Seal Society in Santa Cruz and Monterey; and telecommunications managers from the National Centrex Users Group, who are spread across the US. At Santa Clara University, where 650 off-campus business administration students and lecturers will be connected, the academic community is expected to benefit from the ability to exchange class notes, work on group assignments from disparate locations, and submit papers by electronic mail. The Connection service eventually will adopt the X500 directory standard it has been ratified.
Pacific Bell is also touting an Intercom service among its residential customers. Called Intercom Plus, the service works with existing telephones and makes it easy for customers to talk and transfer calls between extensions. It will be offered to those single-line residential and business telephone customers who have several extension phones and Pacific Bell claims 90% of its customers will have access to the Intercom service by the end of the year. One application that the company is selling hard to residential customers is the ability to call a family member to dinner without trekking from one end of the house to the other. Intercom Plus costs $4 a month with a one-off installation charge of $5 for residential customers, and $4.50 a month with a $6 installation charge for business customers.