RealTime IT News

MCI WorldCom Preparing Consumer Net Service

After being forced to shed its consumer ISP offering as part of its recent merger, MCI WorldCom is reportedly preparing to launch a new service.

For some time, MCI WorldCom officials have said the company plans to again enter the consumer ISP space, but they have been vague on details as well as when the service might launch.

However, published reports say an announcement is expected soon and could come as early as the beginning of next week.

MCI WorldCom refused to comment on the report. A spokesman said plans have not been finalized and it would be premature to give any indication on when the service might launch.

MCI WorldCom has lacked a consumer ISP service since the merger of MCI and WorldCom closed late last year. Antitrust regulators forced the company to sell its consumer ISP business and other Internet assets. Cable & Wireless ended up buying MCI's consumer service and Internet backbone in May 1998 for $625 million.

However, MCI's UUNet subsidiary has a strong presence in the commercial connectivity market.

One reason MCI WorldCom is making the move is to have a consumer Internet service to bundle with its other products, such as residential long distance. AT&T Corp. and several other telecommunications companies are pursuing similar bundling strategies.

Once the service does launch, it will find itself in an intensely competitive market that's dominated by America Online Inc., with 15 million subscribers. Even AOL's closest competitors pale in terms of subscribes. AT&T WorldNet has about 1.4 million customers and both MindSpring and EarthLink Network each have more than 1 million.

One area in which MCI has been particularly progressive is high-speed Internet access. The company recently announced an ambitious ADSL rollout schedule that will include 600 points of presence across the country by the end of the first quarter.