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4/20/2005
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MCI To Extend Service-Level Agreements

In May, MCI will offer improved SLAs that also would be available to the customers of third-party providers.

MCI on Wednesday put down a leadership stake in customer service, announcing that in May it would offer improved service-level agreements that would also be available to customers of third-party providers.

Customers of MCI's Managed Network Services sometimes use more than one provider. MCI is offering itself as a single point of contact for all of a customer's network-related service needs. MCI says it will guarantee its customers that a network managed by another party is repaired and restored within four hours. MCI offers a 3.5 hour repair time for its own services in the U.S., and six hours for international regions. "The coverage of third-party transport is new and we believe a first in the industry to be included under a standard set of SLAs," says Clifford Cibelli, senior product manager at MCI's Managed Network Services.

Also new is the specific repair time provided for the SLAs. Most other carriers offer mean-time-to-repair, where the guaranteed time to restore a network is averaged among customers. Another improvement is guaranteed, 100% availability for redundant (dual-router, dual-circuit) networks.

Many telecommunication companies are looking to improve customer service through better service-level agreements. "This is a trend that started about six months ago," says Steven Harris, research manager at IDC. However, MCI's guarantee of repair within a specific, hourly time frame is unique, he says.

MCI says a cornerstone of its SLA agreements is its Rapid Fault Isolation network-management system, which became available in February and offers customers with higher levels of network performance and reliability. The system immediately identifies glitches within networks, says MCI.

"As the convergence of data IP telephony becomes increasingly popular," Cibelli says, "network reliability is critical."

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