said Thursday it would "accelerate" the pace of its job-cutting efforts in coming periods, mostly through attrition.

The company said in a presentation to analysts Thursday that it expected "productivity and customer service improvement initiatives" to "save $1.3 billion in annual expenses and capital costs by 2006." The big telco also said it would "evaluate" its dividend and share-buyback policies. SBC has boosted its dividend 19 quarters running and has declared added dividends in each of the last three quarters.

"We are confident that as we move forward we will see revenue trends stabilize, leading to positive growth in revenues, including proportionate results from Cingular, by the end of next year," CEO Ed Whitacre said in a postclose press release.

SBC, which has been the most aggressive of its Baby Bell peer group in holding down costs, said it has cut 28,000 jobs over the last two years. On Thursday, the San Antonio telco said it would cut its number of call centers by about one-third by standardizing technologies and processes. In the SBC network center operations, the company expects to substantially reduce its roughly 500 locations, a number the company said is down from 600 a year and a half ago. Earlier this week New York rival


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offered buyouts to union workers in an effort to trim its own payroll.

On Thursday, SBC slipped a quarter to $23.30.