WorldCom outlines new strategy following Digex merger approval

Just as its crucial merger with hoster Digex Inc. cleared the Federal Communications Commission, WorldCom Inc. here Wednesday again pitched its renewed emphasis on the enterprise, outlining the company's plans to hone in on three lines of business: Web hosting, IP networking and Web centers.

Top executives acknowledged that the company will now have to execute on those chosen strategies instead of relying on major acquisitions, which represent a large part of WorldCom's corporate history.

"[Making] large acquisitions will be tough," said Ron Beaumont, chief operating officer, referring to the current economic climate. "The company will have to perform on its own set of strategies rather than grow by acquisitions."

Central to WorldCom's growth therefore will be its ability to leverage quickly Digex's hosting strengths to offer a raft of managed network services to the enterprise.

"We are not just a bandwidth play or a server farm," said Ron McMurtrie, vice president of e-services for the Clinton, Miss.-based company. Instead WorldCom is positioning itself as a telecom titan that can marry its extensive networking assets with up-and-coming managed hosting plays.

Jeff Moore, an analyst with Sterling, Va.-based market research firm Current Analysis, agreed that managed hosting offerings hold promise for large telecoms such as WorldCom.

"Managed services will be an important point of emphasis for major players like WorldCom and AT&T, since it will help differentiate them from a herd," said Moore.

As part of the enterprise push, the company unveiled a pair of repackaged VPN (virtual private networking) services, bundling two previous offerings into a combined suite with added connectivity options.

Specifically, WorldCom rolled together its public and private IP VPN offerings as a way for larger businesses that now lean heavily on the enhanced security and privacy features offered by private line VPNs to begin migrating to public VPN solutions.

WorldCom also added a set of new access alternatives for its VPN offerings. Companies can now use WorldCom services for remote employees using dial, ISDN, DSL and wireless modem alternatives.

"We are turning up the volume on our IP VPN services," said Brian Brewer, senior vice of business marketing.

As the third leg of the enterprise push, WorldCom is billing itself as one of the top players in the Web-enabled call center arena, touting facilities-based multimedia care, subscription-based pricing, and scalability from small to large enterprises.

WorldCom's global enterprise play will not be undertaken alone. Partners include Lucent, EMC, KPMG and Techology Solutions, according to officials.

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