WorldCom Reinvents Itself

SAN MATEO (04/18/2000) - Distancing itself from its roots as a long-distance phone service provider, MCI WorldCom Inc. last week announced a corporate repositioning. The company ditched, at least unofficially, the "MCI" from its name and declared itself to be primarily a provider of Web-enabling services for the lucrative midsize business market.

It was CEO Bernie Ebbers who said the company should be called WorldCom, adding that "MCI" should only be associated with residential long-distance service.

Ebbers also let it be known that he takes offense with the "telecom" label often attached to the company. Therein may lie the real purpose behind the shift, said Melanie Posey, an analyst at IDC, a Framingham, Massachusetts-based market analysis company.

"The whole point of the announcement was to distance MCI WorldCom from telecom and position it more on the Internet data side of things," Posey said. "They are faced with 'sexy' companies like Exodus which have no telecom [services] but are strictly next-generation Internet."

To shed its telecom image, the company will spend most of its resources developing services for both established companies that are looking to use advanced Web capabilities and new e-commerce companies, according to Ebbers.

"Each year, we [invest] about $8 to $10 billion in capital expenditures. What you will see is a reprioritization of the capital expenditures we are making," Ebbers said.

In pursuing the $7 billion middle-tier business market, WorldCom will roll out turnkey and customized offerings developed as part of an e-business "toolkit."

"These will be microservices needed to do business on the Web. [They] will be available a la carte or in combined packages," said Fred Briggs, WorldCom's CTO.

WorldCom will also begin unveiling significant VOIP (voice over IP) services that officials hinted at weeks ago.

WorldCom Inc., in Clinton, Mississippi, is at www.wcom.com.

WorldCom's new focus

Although details were scant, WorldCom hinted at its new direction.

* Its new toolkit will likely include directory services, security/certificate services, and voice browsing.

* VOIP-managed services will include voice over frame relay and voice over ATM.

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