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.


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