LOS ANGELES (04/06/2000) - With an eye on the booming wireless data market, MCI WorldCom Inc. primarily seeks to buy Sprint Corp. because of the carrier's Sprint PCS service and not for its wireless voice network, the chairman of UUNet Technologies Inc., an MCI WorldCom subsidiary, said here today.
Federal regulators in the U.S. and Europe are looking closely at the planned merger between MCI WorldCom and Sprint, and have expressed concerns that the deal may erode choice for customers in a variety of communications markets.
MCI WorldCom and Sprint confirmed their intentions to merge in October of last year when the deal was valued at US$129 billion [See "UPDATE: MCI WorldCom, Sprint Confirm US$129B Deal," Oct. 5, 1999].
"I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to explain to regulators why our acquisition of Sprint is really a good thing for America," said UUNet Chairman John Sidgmore in a speech at Internet World here today.
Sidgmore is also MCI WorldCom vice chairman.
MCI WorldCom has acquired 75 companies in the past few years, actions that have apparently made federal regulators "skeptical" about the firm, Sidgmore said.
"Thank God for Microsoft," he said. "If it weren't for Microsoft, we'd be the most hated company in the Department of Justice."
In a wide-ranging discussion of the future of the Net, Sidgmore predicted that accessing content and services from the Web using cellular phones and other portable devices will be a massive industry over the next two to three years.
"We are buying (Sprint) because we wanted the Sprint PCS wireless service, not to sell voice over wireless to consumers -- although that's part of the reason," Sidgmore said. "I believe wireless data will be the next big explosion in the Internet and in the communications market in general."
The explosion will be driven by an uptick in connection speeds, and by advanced wireless services that allow users to pay bills, buy tickets and make other transactions over their phone, he said. Voice-enabled applications that allow users to speak instructions into their phone will also be a big boon for the wireless Web, he predicted.
MCI WorldCom, in Jackson, Mississippi, can be reached at +1-601-360-8600 or http://www.wcom.com/.