Infrastructure
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7/20/2004
03:05 PM
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MCI Unveils Private, Metro Ethernet Services

The struggling telecom service provider is taking aim at the business market with easier, faster links to the Internet and wide-area connections.

Even as it struggles to stay in control of its own fiscal destiny, MCI on Tuesday unveiled plans to deliver new private and metro-area Ethernet services, which are meant to simplify and improve businesses' wide-area and Internet connections.

As part of a new strategy dubbed "Converged Packet Access," MCI's Ethernet offerings are the first step in a planned convergence to an entirely packet-based infrastructure of Ethernet and Multiprotocol Label Switching technology. Under the CPA umbrella, MCI said it plans to offer the ability to consolidate all current types of wide-area traffic, including frame relay, ATM, IP VPNs, and even voice, onto a single Ethernet connection to the customer premise.

In a statement, MCI said that next month it will offer private Ethernet services for the first time, allowing businesses to connect Ethernet LANs without any conversion to a traditional wide-area networking format, such as frame relay or ATM. MCI said it will use an Ethernet-over-Sonet implementation to support the private Ethernet services. MCI didn't disclose costs or say where the services would be available.

In the metro Ethernet market, MCI said it will offer faster connectivity speeds of 10 Mbps, 40 Mbps, and 100 Mbps, also beginning in August. Later this year, MCI said it plans to add metro-area support for direct storage-networking communications. MCI also said it is planning to expand its dedicated Ethernet Internet connection service from five to 25 markets by September. The service, MCI said, provides Internet access at speeds ranging from 1 Mbps to 600 Mbps, with Gigabit links available "upon request."

While Metro Ethernet and private Ethernet services are certainly a desirable future wish for many business customers, there's still the question of whether MCI will be around to realize their earning potential. Last week, investor actions put MCI's new stock in play, not too long after the company had successfully emerged from the bankruptcy brought about by the accounting scandals from when the company was known as WorldCom.

If MCI, which reported dismal earnings earlier this year, keeps struggling, it could be broken up into pieces or bought whole by investors or by one of the large regional Bells--Verizon, BellSouth, SBC, or Qwest--any of which could make use of MCI's extensive backbone and Internet connections into businesses.

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