MCI WorldCom to upgrade networks in Great Britain, France, and Germany

Dec. 1, 1998

MCI WorldCom to upgrade networks in Great Britain, France, and Germany

By EDward HARROFF

MCI WorldCom (Jackson, MS) has announced plans to construct the next phase of its pan-European all-fiber network. By the end of 1999, MCI WorldCom will offer local, national, and international long-distance telecommunications services to any customer connected to the public switched network in Europe`s large national markets.

MCI WorldCom will expand its existing 3200-km (2000-mi) backbone network by 7150 km (4290 mi). Upon completion, this investment will more than triple the size of its pan-European infrastructure and will connect 20 new city points-of-presence (see figure). These three national networks (in Great Britain, France, and Germany) will permit MCI WorldCom to offer its full portfolio of on-net local-to-global-to-local telecommunications services via its own public switched network. MCI WorldCom will be well positioned to compete against Europe`s leading public tele communications operators (PTOs) for the roughly 60% of the European telecommunications market that will be at stake.

Gearing up for demand

"We have proven our ability to meet customer demand for quality and value in Europe`s international telecommunications market. We have also evolved our national businesses from simple resale outfits into fully licensed facilities-based operators, complete with metropolitan, international, and sub oceanic cable systems," says Liam Strong, president and chief executive of MCI WorldCom International. "We are now scaling up to address the local and national opportunity in what accounts for up to 60% of Europe`s market for telecommunications services. Customers won`t have to be in the country`s financial capital to get our unique telecom services."

As part of its expansion, MCI WorldCom has acquired Racal Telecommunications` long-haul network in Great Britain for $20 million. As for the estimated cost of constructing its new fiber, MCI WorldCom mentioned its $6 billion investment plans for network expansions, of which $1 billion is earmarked for international networks.

As with MCI WorldCom`s existing long-distance network in Europe, the process of installing new sections of its fiber-optic network has been accelerated through the acquisition of rights of way and dark fiber from a number of utility and transport organizations. All transmission systems and network management will be built and managed by WorldCom`s own cable construction group, MK International.

SDH-only

Of course, WorldCom is committed to using only Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) architecture to leverage its accumulated knowledge of running existing metropolitan and long-distance SDH networks. MCI WorldCom has a multi-vendor approach for SDH network suppliers. Alcatel and Nortel will split the new fiber-build contracts.

MCI WorldCom International is targeting two categories of customers with its local-to-global-to-local approach. The first-tier customers are the world`s largest multinationals that have their key telecommunication hubs beyond traditional city centers. In the United Kingdom, an example of MCI WorldCom`s account-by-account network planning shows its national network extending to Brighton and Port Smith (e.g., to reach key corporations such as American Express and IBM). The second-tier customers are seen as accounts that have intense telecommunications needs that only span the national network. There are hundreds of these types of accounts in the three national markets that will be serviced.

The MCI WorldCom fiber-optic network is built upon the former MFS metropolitan area networks and the earlier WorldCom pan-European network that connected the United Kingdom by two cross-channel submarine cables linking the Netherlands and France (see Lightwave, June 1997, page 1). MK International worked with Alcatel Submarine to provision a 48-fiber cable that supports multiple 2.5-Gbit/sec channels. The new phase of MCI WorldCom`s expansion will continue using these network configurations.

Steve Wallage, Dataquest UK, points out that "MCI WorldCom will be able to quickly recover its expansion invest ment due to an upsurge of IP [Internet protocol] traffic. Trans-Atlantic IP traffic volume has outgrown voice traffic this quarter for the first time. As a broadband traffic provider, MCI WorldCom will turn up the heat on both the former PTO monopolies and the alternate national players such as Energis. MCI WorldCom will no longer need to split the bulk of its revenues with the established PTOs through interconnect fees." q

Edward Harroff writes from Bellevue, Switzerland.

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