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Worldcom Files for Wireless Spectrum

Finally recovering from its failed merger with Sprint Corp., Worldcom Inc., is looking to the future with Monday's spectrum license application for fixed broadband wireless services.

The first round of filing sent to the Federal Communications Commission is necessary for Worldcom to offer fixed wireless services in the 160 markets it caters. The license will be granted if no petitions to deny are sent to the FCC within 60 days.

The Worldcom spectrum application comes after its June announcement to call off merger talks with Sprint , which was headed for rejection by the Department of Justice any ways. Earlier merger attempts with the European Union were rebuffed.

A merger between the two companies would have given the new company control over 53 percent of the nation's network, five times as much as the second-largest provider. Worldcom's UUNet currently owns 37 percent of the nation's backbone,

Sprint, with one of the largest wireless networks in the U.S., would have provided the wireless data infrastructure Worldcom needed to expand its wireless offerings. The failed merger leaves the provider scrambling to assemble a fixed broadband wireless plan.

Worldcom is marketing its "generation d" initiative of fixed broadband wireless services in Boston, Providence, R.I., Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Texas, Jackson, Miss., Memphis, Tenn., Buffalo, N.Y. and Norfolk, Va. It expects to commercially launch the service in the fourth quarter.

John Stupka, Worldcom wireless solutions president, said the company is working hard to guarantee license acceptance.

"Our applications move us one step closer to market launch," Stupka said. "We'll work with the FCC and other spectrum holders to make this a speedy and smooth licensing process.

"We're gearing up for a broadband launch in Memphis, which will serve as the model market for offering our customers multiple solutions for high-speed access services," Stupka said. "Broadband fixed wireless gives our customers a competitive, reliable choice for high-speed access especially in markets where few, if any, options exist."

The company is seeking a spectrum license in the multichannel multipoint distribution service and instructional television fixed services spectrums, until lately the exclusive band for the delivery of one-way video programming. Efforts by the FCC to open up the spectrum cleared the way for two-way data traffic.