Cincinnati Bell

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Cincinnati Bell, Inc.
Traded as NYSECBB
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1873
Headquarters Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Area served
Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio
Key people
Ted Torbeck, President & CEO
Products Local Telephone Service
Revenue Increase $1.462 billion (2011)
Increase $18.6 million (2011)
Number of employees
2,900 (2005)
Subsidiaries Cincinnati Bell Telephone
Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions

Cincinnati Bell (stylized in branding materials as Cıncınnatı Bell) is the dominant telephone company for Cincinnati, Ohio, and its nearby suburbs in the U.S. states of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. The parent company is named Cincinnati Bell Inc. Its incumbent local exchange carrier subsidiary uses the name Cincinnati Bell Telephone Company LLC. Other subsidiaries handle services such as payphones and long distance calling. Since the 2000s, Cincinnati Bell has diversified into other utilities, such as IPTV and household electricity, while divesting its mobile phone subsidiary.


Warsaw Avenue office building, Price Hill, Cincinnati

Cincinnati Bell started out as the City and Suburban Telegraph Association and was providing telegraph lines between homes and businesses in 1873, three years before the invention of the telephone. In 1878, it gained exclusive rights to the Bell franchise within a 25-mile (40-km) radius of Cincinnati--the first telephone exchange in Ohio. It has substantially the same incumbent local exchange carrier territory today, straddling 2,400 square miles in three states. The name changed to Cincinnati and Suburban Bell Telephone Company in 1903. It was shortened to Cincinnati Bell in 1971.

Cincinnati Bell and Southern New England Telephone (SNET) were the only two companies in the old Bell System that operated independently because AT&T only owned minority stakes in the companies. Therefore, neither is considered a Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC), AT&T was not obligated to dispose of their ownership stakes in the companies, and restrictions placed on the Baby Bells did not apply to these two companies. AT&T owned 32.6% of Cincinnati Bell until 1984, at which point the shares AT&T owned were placed into a trust and then sold.[1] In 1998, SNET was bought by SBC Communications, an RBOC, and in 2014 was sold to Frontier Communications, a company with no relation to the former Bell System; however, Cincinnati Bell has remained independent.

The newsmagazine 60 Minutes reported in 1989 that Cincinnati Bell cooperated with local police to wiretap local residents in search of alleged communist or criminal activity from 1972 to 1984.[2] In a move widely criticized by consumer advocates, Cincinnati Bell was also the first phone company in Ohio to take advantage of a 2005 state law that lets phone companies raise rates without having to gain approval from state regulators.[citation needed]

Cincinnati Bell's residential landline service continues to use the classic Bell logo.[3]

In May 1999, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio awarded Cincinnati Bell Long Distance the right to offer local wireline telephone service in 55 counties outside its incumbent territory and began to resell business local phone service in these counties, in competition with incumbent carrier Ameritech.[4][5]

During the 1990s, Cincinnati Bell acquired a nationwide transmission network formerly known as IXC Communications and changed its corporate name to "Broadwing Communications," although the local telephone operations continued to operate under their traditional name. In the 2000s, the holding company divested the long-distance operation as Broadwing Corporation and changed its name back to Cincinnati Bell.

In 2002, Cincinnati Bell sold Cincinnati Bell Directory, consisting of its directory operations, to Spectrum Equity. The resulting company is named CBD Media. The sale marked the first time a former Bell System-affiliated company sold off its directory operations.

Cincinnati Bell is the only American Bell System company that continues to publicly do business under the "Bell" name.[6] In 2006, Cincinnati Bell removed the final Bell logo, designed in 1969 by Saul Bass, from most of its corporate branding, leaving only a stylized wordmark. However, the company continues to use the Bell logo as a favicon on its website and in promotional materials for residential landline and long distance service.[7]

Cincinnati Bell's original headquarters, the Cincinnati and Suburban Telephone Company Building, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Landline service[edit]

Cincinnati Bell provides landline PSTN local and long-distance calling. In recent years, the company has seen subscriptions to these traditional services decline due to competition from cable and wireless providers.[8]

Wireless telephony[edit]

Former Cincinnati Bell Wireless logo used until mid-2006

From 1998 until 2015, Cincinnati Bell Wireless (CBW) offered GSM wireless service in southeastern Indiana, southwestern Ohio, and northwestern Kentucky. It offered HSPA+[9] service in most of Hamilton County, Ohio, and parts of surrounding counties; EDGE[10] service in Dayton and Oxford; and GSM service elsewhere. The local coverage area extended north to Celina and Urbana, east to Hillsboro, south to Corinth and Warsaw, and west to Batesville.[11] Cincinnati Bell's prepaid mobile phone products were sold under same i-wireless brand as an unrelated service by locally based Kroger.[12]

Cincinnati Bell made its first foray into wireless telephony around 1986, when it acquired a 45% stake in Ameritech Cellular. On February 2, 1998, Cincinnati Bell acquired 80% of AT&T Wireless Services's new Cincinnati-Dayton PCS network for over $100 million. Cincinnati Bell's subsidiary Cincinnati Bell Wireless was responsible for marketing and sales, while AT&T Wireless handled technical operations for the joint venture. Wireless service began by June in Cincinnati and by September in Dayton, eventually covering a 21-county area.[13][14][15] When AT&T Wireless was purchased by Cingular, now known as AT&T Mobility, control of its 20% stake also passed to Cingular. On February 17, 2006, Cincinnati Bell took full control of CBW by purchasing Cingular's stake for $83 million. As a part of the deal, Cincinnati Bell and Cingular secured lower roaming charges on each other's respective GSM networks.[16]

An independent research provider tested Cincinnati Bell Wireless's service in Cincinnati and Dayton and found the company to have the best wireless network in 2005 and 2006.[17] Cincinnati Bell Wireless had 571,000 wireless subscribers at the end of 2007[18] and 196,000 postpaid wireless subscribers at the end of 2013.[19]

On April 7, 2014, Cincinnati Bell announced plans to sell its wireless spectrum and other assets to Verizon Wireless, as part of a planned emphasis on enterprise and entertainment services such as FiOptics.[6][20] Cincinnati Bell Wireless ended service on February 28, 2015. The company's retail locations began selling Verizon products.[21]

Internet access[edit]

Former Fuse logo

Cincinnati Bell offers Internet access to customers in its service area. Cincinnati Bell's Fuse Internet Service provides dial-up access, while its broadband access is through its ZoomTown ADSL service. ZoomTown customers still connect to the Internet through an Internet service provider. Typically, ZoomTown is used in conjunction with Cincinnati Bell's ISP, Fuse, although other local ISPs are available. ZoomTown's ADSL technology currently offers three speeds of 5 Mbit/s and 768 kbit/s downstream.[22] ZoomTown started service in 1999. Cincinnati Bell also offers a service called ZoomTown Plus that bundles Internet access with news, reference, and entertainment content, provided though Synacor.[23] Cincinnati Bell has started offering Zoomtown Internet at speeds from 5 Mbit/s up to 1 Gbit/s in conjunction with its FiOptics services. The availability is limited to areas currently wired for FiOptics, and other FiOptics services are not required. In areas now covered by FiOptics, Cincinnati Bell no longer offers ADSL-only speeds of greater than 5 Mbit/s.

Its primary competitor for broadband Internet access is Time Warner Cable's Road Runner.

Fiber optics[edit]

In late 2008, Cincinnati Bell started offering a fiber-optic communications (Internet, telephone, and IPTV) service called FiOptics, similar to the U-verse service offered by AT&T and the FiOS service offered by Verizon Communications.[24] Cincinnati Bell is currently in the process of rolling out the new service to select communities in the Cincinnati area.[25] FiOptics runs fiber to the home, augmented by fiber to the node.[8] In August 2014, Cincinnati Bell began offering gigabit Internet speeds with its Fioptics service.[26]


In 2011, Cincinnati Bell became the first telecommunications company to also provide retail energy service.[27] Through a partnership with Viridian Energy, Cincinnati Bell Energy competes with several other alternative electricity retailers for the power generation portion of customers' electricity bills.[8] The subsidiary advertises that its service is entirely sourced from regional wind power certified by Green-e Energy.[28]

Retail stores[edit]

Cincinnati Bell originally operated a chain of Cincinnati Bell Phone Center locations until 1992, when it sold the retail chain to AT&T.[29] It reentered the retail space in 1998 with three Store@Cincinnati Bell retail locations.[14][13] As of 2015, the company operates eight Cincinnati Bell Stores.[30]


On February 17, 2004, in the investigation of the Audit Committee of the Company's Board of Directors, adjustments had been identified related to the manner that the Company recorded particular broad band network construction agreement entered into in 2000. These adjustments related to the timing of revenue recognition resulting from the inappropriate inclusion of certain costs that had not been fully incurred and use of estimates regarding the extent to which the construction contract had been completed.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AT&T Annual Report 1983. Accessed April 27, 2012
  2. ^ "Wiretapping". Congressional Record. 1989-04-18. 
  3. ^ "Reliable Home Phone Service from Cincinnati Bell". Cincinnati Bell. Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Bell to compete with Ameritech". Cincinnati Business Courier (American City Business Journals). May 6, 1999. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Bell taking on Ameritech in Ohio markets". Cincinnati Business Courier (American City Business Journals). July 19, 1999. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Pichler, Josh (August 5, 2013). "IN-DEPTH: A new calling for the last of the Bells". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved April 8, 2014. Bell is the last of its breed, the only surviving regional Bell company still bearing the monicker of the telephone’s inventor. 
  7. ^ "Long Distance Calling". Cincinnati Bell. Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Buckley, Sean (2011-07-07). "Cincinnati Bell's new broadband and energy ventures are all about survival". FierceTelecom (FierceMarkets). Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  9. ^ Goldstein, Phil (July 6, 2011). "Cincinnati Bell joins 4G parade with HSPA+ rollout". FierceWireless. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Cincinnati Bell Wireless Network Policies" (PDF). Cincinnati Bell Wireless. August 18, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Cincinnati Bell Wireless Coverage". Cincinnati Bell. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ "i-wireless". Cincinnati Bell Wireless. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Boyer, Mike (February 4, 1998). "Cincinnati Bell adding wireless". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved March 29, 2015. Cincinnati Bell made its long-awaited entry into wireless communications Tuesday, acquiring 80 percent of AT&T Wireless Services' new Cincinnati-Dayton network for more than $100 million. ... Under the agreement, Cincinnati Bell Wireless will handle the business side of the venture, and AT&T Wireless will concentrate on the technical side of the digital Personal Communications Service (PCS) network. AT&T Wireless is building the network over 21 counties, stretching from Springfield south to the Interstate 75-71 split in Northern Kentucky and from Clermont County on the east to Lawrenceburg on the west. 
  14. ^ a b Boyer, Mike (October 21, 1997). "Bell will open 3 stores". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Company News; AT&T and Cincinnati Bell agree on wireless partnership". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). February 4, 1998. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  16. ^ AT&T Corporate Information - News Room
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Small US Operators - Q4 2007 Results". March 11, 2008. 
  19. ^ EDGAR Pro
  20. ^ McCarthy, Erin (April 7, 2014). "Cincinnati Bell to Sell Wireless Spectrum Licenses to Verizon Wireless". The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company). Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Cincinnati Bell Wireless: We have some exciting news!". Cincinnati Bell. 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  22. ^ Cincinnati Bell Consumer Homepage
  23. ^ "Cincinnati Bell Accelerates Its Zoomtown High-Speed Internet Access Service With Synacor-Built Portal And Premium Content Package" (Press release). Synacor, Inc. January 3, 2005. 
  24. ^ Arnason, Bernie (September 29, 2009). "Cincinnati Bell Makes GPON Moves, Follows FiOS Lead". Retrieved November 10, 2009. 
  25. ^ Matterise, John (October 30, 2009). "Cincinnati Bell Rolls out FiOptics TV". Retrieved November 10, 2009. [dead link]
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Cincinnati Bell Energy Launches Green Energy Service" (Press release). Cincinnati Bell Energy (Business Wire). 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  28. ^ "Get Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Cincinnati Bell Energy". Cincinnati Bell. Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  29. ^ "Index". The Wall Street Journal 2. p. 1462 – via Google Books. Cincinnati Bell Inc. agreed to sell its telephone equipment leasing and Phone Center Store business to AT&T Co. AT&T will provide telephone lease service to Cincinnati Bell's residential lease customers and operate AT&T Phone Centers in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky region beginning Feb 1, 1993. 
  30. ^ "Cincinnati Bell Store & Payment Locations". Cincinnati Bell. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  31. ^ "CINCINNATI BELL INC (Annual Report) Filed 3/23/2004 For Period Ending 12/31/2003". 

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