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The Almighty Buck

MCI/Worldcom buys Sprint 114

Akatosh gave us the quick word - MCI/Worldcom has tendered an accepted offer to Sprint to purchase them. Another telco merger, this one is for 100$ billion dollars - beating out BellSouth. This is the largest corporate merger on record - and if it means I can get DSL at home, then more power to it.
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MCI/Worldcom buys Sprint

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  • I, personally, am indifferent, due to US West having a complete grip on the West(not CA). US West's Internet *cough* service *cough* is a joke, and they absolutely REFUSE to deploy DSL anywhere but the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

    If they can buy out US West I would be happy. But if Falcon Cable can get their butts in gear and get cable modems here like they SHOULD have 3 months ago, I'll be even happier.

    "De-caf! Oh no! De-caf bad bbbbbad! De-caf oh nononononono!" - Espressus, the God of Coffee
  • An oligopoly is essentially a monopoly by a few, rather than by one.

    So as long as they cooperate with each other, they can raise prices and reduce service at will. The fewer companies are in the market, the more power each one has and the easier it is to get consensus among all of them, on how to get more money out of us while providing less. This is a Bad Thing. Look at Big Oil and Big Tobacco for examples of oligopolies. They set prices based on what we'll pay for them, rather than on the cost of production. And meanwhile prevent entry into the market by startups who would charge less.

    Where on earth did Hemos get the idea that this would help him get DSL at home? We'd have had high bandwidth years ago if it wasn't for monopolistic conditions in telecommunications.

    In monopoly conditions, consolidation does not lead to lower prices or better service.

  • Now I have to return my nice SprintPCS phone...just when they got the web hooked up to it too. MCI gobbles up half way decent companies and leaves only steaming piles of broken billing and customer service departments in its wake. What I want to know is how many times consumers have to be screwed before the government puts the brakes on at least one of these big mergers?!
  • I don't think the SEC has jurisdiction in this case, probably more like DOJ, FTC, FCC, all the states and a few thousand municipalities. But judging from recent history the regulators won't do too much about this one. I don't see a real need for them to do so either, considering that long distance and wireless are both fairly competitive markets, and data is extremely competitive.
    --
  • I hear from my friends at AOL that AOL has people on both boards and now AOL is a majority shareholder of MCI/Worldcom/Sprint/UUNet/etc...

    according to their ads: "AOL *IS* the Internet"

    ...and Worldcom owns UUNet.

  • US Worst sucks. That's just the way it is.

    However, it's not unreasonable for them to suck so much. They've got the biggest coverage area of any of the baby bells. And, they've got the area with the least number of people.

    So, they don't have much in the way of income, and their capital expenditures to roll out any type of service a higher, since they've got to pipe a signal further out into the boonies.

    so, they suck. and they'll probably always suck.
    C'est la vie.

    scottwimer (in Moscow Idaho)
  • That's the great thing about capitalism: if you are getting screwed, don't buy the product. If companies like MCI, Sprint, Mobil, Exxon, and the like want to conglamorate togeather and create these grand entities that the public hates, I say go for it! You'll hang yourself with your own bankroll. But if these mergers lower prices and increace service quality, then its the consumer who wins in the end anyway.

    government := Bad Thing (tm)
    plain and simple.

    -davek

  • MCI, and now MCI Worldcom, has been reselling wireless service from other providers for a long time now. The conventional wisdom in the industry is that you've got to offer your customers one-stop telecommunications shopping, and nobody believes this more strongly than MCI.

    I think that their hope is to actually start turning a profit on wireless service, rather than just offering it to round out their product line.

  • Food: The same food Mom used to make, only even better - and much cheaper too. Why can't this happen (yet)? There is no cheap way to mass produce food. Most food comes from growing livestock or fields upon fields of plants.

    While industrial food is neither as good or as cheap as what Mom used to cook (or that we can cook for ourselves today), we practically have this situation now:

    • Notice that you said food that "Mom used to make," not "food that we make". The art of cooking in the home, especially from scratch, is being lost, and we are relying more and more on restaurants and highly preprocessed quick meals.

    • In the restaurant arena, global chains are displacing locally-owned "mom and pop" restaurants. This is due to massive brainwashing (Sagans of $$$ spent on advertising, so that even a three year old child can recognize the various corporate logos), plus a "quality" approach that emphasizes non-variability in product. The burgers and pizza from my local "Mom's Diner" and "Pizza Oven" (I am not making these names up) are usually better than those from the Big Three [McDonald's, BK, Wendy's] and Pizza Hut. But, the delivery time is slightly longer, and a bit more variable. And, while the food at Mom's Diner depends on who's in the kitchen, a Big Mac is always a Big Mac. Most consumers are choosing the slightly lower cost and increased predictability of MegaBurgerPizza, and ignoring the globalizing/monopolizing consequences.

      These global food chains are also in bed with the other major global corporations, such as the media conglomerates. For instance, we all know who the PepsiCo restaurants are now, from the Star Wars: The Phantom Menace marketing, McDonald's toys are coordinated with the latest Disney release ...

    • Does anyone remember the "We're Beatrice" ad campaign of years ago? The food processing industry is very similar to the automotive industry -- a few mega-corporations, with lots of supplier companies that are wholly or partly owned. The variety of labels on grocery store shelves is deceiving, because the same company will have different "product lines," and often the generic "alternative" is simply the same food without the heavily-advertized label.

    • As for farmers, while "save the family farm!" is occaisionally heard from the lips of politicians and celebrities, it's nearly too late. The U.S. Census Bureau has stopped counting farming as an occupation, because there aren't enough farmers left to be statistically significant. Of those who are left, the traditional "family farm" has become nearly extinct. Most farmers who are left are becoming "mega-farmers," relying on huge acreages and automation to farm as much as possible. Which leads into the next problem ...

    • ... that the "inputs" for farmers are controlled by a small network of large MegaCorps. There has been massive consolidation in the agribusiness industry in the last several years. This includes equipement suppliers (example: the John Deere - CASE/IH merger), the seed suppliers, and the pesticide suppliers (often the same company, example: Monsanto). This leads to situations where, for a given year, more than 25% of the U.S. corn crop is grown from a single hybrid variety, and Roundup Ready(tm) soybeans have gone in four years from zero to 55% of the U.S. soybean crop. (Roundup Ready(tm) soy is a patented gene, leading to similar problems with corporate control as software patenting.) Anyone who thinks variety in both the natural and corporate ecosystems is a good thing, and who likes to eat, ought to be concerned about such things.

    • Finally, the market for farm crops is dominated by a few huge global corporations, such as Cargill. So, farmers are buying their "inputs" from a market dominated by megacorps, and selling into a market dominated by megacorps. Even worse, in markets such as beef and pork, some of these large buyers are also the largest producers, and buy from themselves first. So, smaller meat producers only make sales when the large packing houses didn't create enough for themselves. This is one reason why, earlier this year, hog prices were lower than the cost of raising pigs, and effectively lower than Depression prices.

      This is one reason farming is declining in popularity, as no sane person will do it. As my father puts it, he works a day job to support his farming habit. :^/

    For anyone interested in this subject, I highly recommoned starting by reading The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture [amazon.com] by Wendell Berry [amazon.com]. Or anything else Berry has written. For an older, but eerily prescient perspective on why corporate monopolization is bad, and what we can start to do about it, see G. K. Chesterton [chesterton.org], especially The Outline of Sanity

    But there is another strong objection which I, one of the laziest of all the children of Adam, have against the Leisure State. Those who think it could be done argue that a vast machinery using electricity, water-power, petrol, and so on, might reduce the work imposed on each of us to a minimum. It might, but it would also reduce our control to a minimum. We should ourselves become parts of a machine, even if the machine only used those parts once a week. The machine would be our master, for the machine would produce our food, and most of us could have no notion of how it was really being produced.
    -- G. K. Chesterton
  • I went through the same thing. I ended up moving line providers because after 6 months of trying to reach someone on the phone, and being told that the last person I spoke to each time was no longer with the company (undoubtably the highest turnover rate on the planet!) I was fed up. MCI/Worldcomm can burn for all I care...

    How can you shut off someone's 4 PRI lines on a Friday afternoon after someone misprints a circut ID, and then say, "Welp, sorry. Until I get another order to turn it back on, it stays off." and stay in business? Give me a break.
  • This is just a lone opinion, but remember back when the MCI-Worldcom deal was on the table? Regulators were jittery from the outset because they knew that without a proper divestiture of MCI's internet assets before the merger close, the combined company would end up controlling more than 70% of the backbone business.

    I think about this latest proposal the same way. You have one company in control of two major backbones (UUNET and Sprint), not to mention their own service, ONNet. I would venture to guess that this combined company would control a minimum 60% of the backbone biz, without any divestiture of Sprint's internet business. That just isn't gonna happen, folks. I can't see another large backbone being spun off like MCI's infrastructure was to Cable and Wireless. I know a lot of you will probably see this differently, but that's my take...

    I worked at InternetMCI during the merger, and so I may have some light to shed on the subject.

    The regulators (US & Euro) define the Internet business this way: There are "Tier-1" providers, three or four of them. "Tier-1" is defined as follows: Any traffic between any given two points on the internet must contact or traverse a tier-1 provider at some intermediary point. It's laughably absurd, I know, but that's how they think of it. And based on this they identified three Tier-1 providers three or so years ago: UUnet, MCI, and Sprint.

    I do not think that this merger will happen without a divestiture of the Sprint backbone for the same reasons that the MCI spinoff to Cable & Wireless happened. More chaos will insue, although this time they will likely spin it off to an American company I would guess. C+W pays my paychecks, but I've always thought the choice of them was just a sop to the European regulators.

    One interesting note: The European regulators were more concerned about monopoly in nthe Internet business than the Americans. Not monopoly in Europe, where Uunet had some holdings but MCI was largely absent. But because of those holdings Uunet had, the EC has the right to review the entire merger and block it if they find it will create monopolies that will exist entirely within American territory.

  • Neither UUNet nor PSINet are owned by a single ISP, they merely rent out POP space to others.

    UUNET was bought by MFS in 1996, and MFS was bought by WorldCom in a year later. That makes them a wholly-owned subsidiary of WorldCom. PSI is still more or less independent, although they cut a deal for some of IXC's fiber in exchange for a 20% stake.

    Both providers have reseller programs, but AFAIK neither rents space in their PoPs to other ISPs.

  • I switched my LD carrier to Qwest [qwest.com]. There's probably a couple of awful things about Qwest I don't know about, but I'll be O.K. with that just as long as I can stay away from Sprint [sprint.com].

    Sprint is horrible. To me its kind of like the Highlander TV-series, everyone you absorb changes you, and Sprint is so bad, it couldn't help but make MCI WorldCom [mciworld.com] worse. Sprint PCS has to be about the worst mobile carrier on the planet.

    Why oh, why, do telecommunications companies suck so much? I can't wait for a break through in quantum communications, just the sort of thing we need to erase large beaureaucratic near-monopolies from the face of the Earth.

    On the gripping hand, we can all get DSL and standardize on some kind of voice-o'er-IP standard. That'll show them.

  • Thats is definately one of the many unfortunate side effects of this whole thing. I grew up in KC and Sprint is one of the biggest employers in the city. Aside from the 14000+ employess there are a lot of other people who are employed because sprint is there. I'm sure MCI will clean house and the KC Metro area will suffer more than its fair share.

    wes
  • After reading Shaheen's and Zach Frey's posts ("We're There Already"), I can easily see how we'd wind up with The Corporation:

    Let's add a little Nano to the mix and watch as everybody sucks from the high-tech teat. All your groceries, all your power, all your data, comin' down that Feed. The only drawback to putting Nano in everybody's kitchen is that the knowledge and infrastructural ramp-ups are gonna be huge. It's going to be a bitch to leverage that much technological know-how into a whole new category of "public" (investor-owned) utility.

    Companies already understand how to vertically integrate out the wazoo and mergers/leveraged buyouts are getting too attractive to resist. I still wonder why it is that competition doesn't generate enough more efficiency than economy of scale to encourage companies to resist the siren song of Fewer But Bigger.

  • As for farmers, while "save the family farm!" is occaisionally heard from the lips of politicians and celebrities, it's nearly too late. The U.S. Census Bureau has stopped counting farming as an occupation, because there aren't enough farmers left to be statistically significant. Of those who are left, the traditional "family farm" has become nearly extinct.

    Why the hell do Willie and John Cougar keep doing Farm Aid, anyway?

  • somebody talked me into buying worldcom stock some years ago. sometimes less competition is good! -one greedy bastard.
  • MCI/Worldcom is buying Sprint which owns 20% (with an option to buy more) of Earthlink which is merging with MindSpring which bought Netcom. I think UUNet is in there somewhere and probably a few I'm forgetting (is PSINet still independent?).

    While it's probably not as bad as it sounds, and certainly no bigger that AT&T/Cablewhatever. It makes sense to be wary.
    --
  • studies have shown that, contrary to popular belief, bigger banks charge higher prices for services.

    Exactly. People somehow imagine large companies are altruistic, and so will charge less if they can. After all, a bigger operation means more efficient, the economy of scale, right? Except that prices are set based on what people will pay, not on the cost of production. Companies care not for you, they care for maximum profit. Don't be fooled into believing otherwise.

  • Dr Evil is running MCI. He will take over the world's communication networks for only... One Hundred Billion Dollars!
  • gee, does slashdot authors ever read the news before approving it? Bellsouth made a bid of $100 billion, MCI was the one who won the bid by $115 billion.

  • Neither UUNet nor PSINet are owned by a single ISP, they merely rent out POP space to others. I'm personally more worried about the fact that USWest just offered me Cable TV thru my phone line, which is apparently just one interesting way to screw up my DSL even more. The possibilities melt my brain into my pants...

    Zen
  • My prefered method of dealing with phone solicitation is that anytime you're requested to give your phone number, give your cell phone number. You'll get a few solicitations starting about 2 weeks from that point, and they'll last a couple of weeks, however, as there's a burden on you for them calling you (as you get charged for time), it's a federal crime to solicit to cell phones.

    They get 1 warning per year, and after that, you can hit them for $500/incident (including the first).

    The only flaw with this is that you can get some phone calls at annoying times (ie, driving), but it feels good to completely bitch out solicitors, as with one of my conversations with CitiBank:

    "Are you aware that you just called a cell phone?"
    "Um...no, I wasn't"
    "Are you aware that it's a federal crime to solicit to a cell phone"
    *click*

    (of course, I never did sue them...could have gotten $2k for it.)
  • Well, in the large score of things, the shareholders of the companies are supposed to benefit. If a company does something that isn't in the financial interest of the company, then the shareholders are allowed to sue the company, or something like that.

    (Any business law people here? They'd probably know the full details).

    Anyway, it's shit like this that gets us in trouble...I mean, who determines financial interest? What's the horizon on it? (profitable over 1 year, 5 years, 100 years?)

    I mean, we could work right at the edge of the environmental laws, and turn a better profit this year, but it might hurt us in the 100year scope, when our area turns into a brown field.
  • Now, I realise most people here are thoroughly US based, but Deutsche Telekom recently shocked pundits across Europe by buying out one of the main (the main?) Italian Telco. They are huge (and expanding).

    If Sprint make a hurried decision to jump into bed with MCI (with whom they prolly have more in common) than DK, who have shown predatory tendencies, then it's a bit soon to blame them.

  • Maybe not. BellSouth cannot enter the long distance market since they cannot show that they have allowed competitivwe access to the local phone traffic. The consensus was that BellSouth therefore would not have been able to buy their way into the long distance business for the same reason.


    ...phil
  • I've heard other people mention these problems with the MCI merger...it seems that MCI passed over the circuits, in a broader sense to C&W, but they didn't pass over the details of the customer database, or something lame like that.

    The result was that calling C&W was completely useless. But they're not the only fubar'd telecom company out there. Anyone with that large of a customer database is going to make mistakes once in a while (I've got soem Sprint paging & AT&T horror stories that'd make you wonder how anyone could be that stupid).

    What bothers me, however, is that it seems as if there's no accountability. When a small company messes up, you know where they are. If you pressure them long enough, you'll get through to someone who can fix something. I know an ISP that's been in dispute with AT&T for years over a past bill, has had collection agencies on 'em, etc, and can't get anyone to talk to them. (and was even still getting offers from AT&T to sign up for their backbone)

  • Many of my friends and family (pun unfortunate) have been beyond wit's end (a dangerous regime indeed) with MCI. MCI is not competent to run their own show, what makes anybody think they could handle Sprint without ruining it too?

    I have actually recommended to my sister that she seek out what is the appropriate "better business bureau" to contact regarding MCI. All future letters that she writes to customer service, billing, and every other vaccuum-of-a-department at MCI should then be copied to the CEO, and this BBB.

    Does anybody know what better business bureau is appropriate? The state where MCI is headquartered (which is?) ? Is there a national BBB for companies engaged in interstate commerce? Perhaps, if there is any finite possibility of this merger happening, then it may be of everybody's best interest to contact such a bureau, and encourage it to act accordingly.

    ---------
    Once in a while you get shown the light,
  • Your friends are idiots then...

    Go to edgar.sec.gov, look up the 10-K statements for each company.

    Now come back here and promise never to post heresay on /. again...
  • AT&T owns 90% of the lines in the us and the fed gov't makes them lease them out to other companies. so how come at&t isnt the cheapest?
  • Which reminds me... Sprint and Earthlink have some big whopping partnership, I don't recall the details but there is some mutual ownership. Earthlink just merged with (or got eaten by, depending on your POV) Mindspring.

    So if MCI eats Sprint, just who the heck IS my ISP?? And what's this going to do to service?

    (C'mon, KTB.NET, get a damned POP out here :)

  • Earthlink ate PSInet entirely a couple years ago. That's how they got the POPs out here in the Calif. desert areas. Earthlink leases POPs from UUNet (I'm using one as we speak) but I don't know what the relationship is otherwise.

  • Like Ma Bell i got the ill communication!
    JediLuke
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does this mean I'll get less calls from telemarketer's, or twice as many from the same company? :)
  • There is no way in holy hell the SEC will let this one happen.
  • It seems that the Telcos are doing the same thing that the oil companies are doing i.e. Rebuilding with mergers the monopolies that the governement broke some time ago
  • After CNN reported that Bell South (I think) had made an offer, I thought this might fall through. This probably has to get gov't approval first, but they don't seem to mind big banks merging, so why should they care here? Wonder what this is going to mean for long distance prices.

    Talking about banks again, remember that studies have shown that, contrary to popular belief, bigger banks charge higher prices for services. Will this hold in the telecommunications arena? Hope not.

    -- Moondog
  • "All Corporations Merge into Omnicorp"
    I know this isn't a monopoly or any kind of real poly, but do we really need a company to hangle all our communications and cook our dinners also. I know this kinda sounds like the typical /. rant of "Trust no companies with over 1000 employees" but it just worries me.
  • *Hopefully*. Based on the plethora of mergers they've allowed, I'm not so sure...
  • Or is it "Trust No Company whose CEO is over 30?"

    Heh.

    Seriously, though. The phone system is and will (IMHO) always have to be forced away from monopolism--it's so easy and obvious from the business perspective--don't worry about all the complications of bandwidth when you own and operate all the connections!

    We know what's down that path, tho. Ma Bell and Bill Gates in a marriage of convenience. (Baby Bills?)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 1999 @06:47PM (#1639123)
    I hear from my friends at AOL that AOL has people on both boards and now AOL is a majority shareholder of MCI/Worldcom/Sprint/UUNet/etc...

    according to their ads:
    "AOL *IS* the Internet"

    now.... hmmph...

  • This is just a lone opinion, but remember back when the MCI-Worldcom deal was on the table? Regulators were jittery from the outset because they knew that without a proper divestiture of MCI's internet assets before the merger close, the combined company would end up controlling more than 70% of the backbone business.

    I think about this latest proposal the same way. You have one company in control of two major backbones (UUNET and Sprint), not to mention their own service, ONNet. I would venture to guess that this combined company would control a minimum 60% of the backbone biz, without any divestiture of Sprint's internet business. That just isn't gonna happen, folks. I can't see another large backbone being spun off like MCI's infrastructure was to Cable and Wireless. I know a lot of you will probably see this differently, but that's my take...
  • (This post automatically disregards all prior posts about "this may not happen" and so forth. I can't bitch if it doesn't happen. Well, I can, but this makes it more worthwhile.)

    Does anyone here actually have Sprint PCS service? The wireless service rocks right along, but the customer service stinks like day-old anchoives. Will this mean we might actually get some good cust. service in North Texas (because, from my view, MCI's long distance cust. service is rather good), or will MCI's call-center start to suck?

    So where does this leave me if I ever want to change wireless providers? AT&T? No, requires contract. SW Bell? Fake digital. PrimeCo? Will they still be in business a year from now, when their partnership breaks up....

    I was under the impression that competition was good, so why would the government allow this merger? I'm against government intervention as a whole, but it looks like we're going back to, primarily, AT&T and MCI, its just the name on the second party has changed slightly. Pretty soon, it'll just be AT&T again.

  • No, it probably will. Even if this merger happens, they will still be smaller than AT&T. And if it does happen, it doesn't necessarily mean that Sprint disappears. It just means Sprint has a new owner. It'll make things interesting here in the KC area...Sprint just built/is building a *HUGE* "world campus" out near my parent's house...I shoulda asked the Sprint people at my school's Career Fair about this last week...;) Oh well.
  • Remember "The Corporation" from Alien? When I first saw the movie, I never thought that could happen. I mean, how could the rest of the population of the Earth be stupid enough to let a single company control everything?

    Well, as we have it today, we seem to be ever more mirroring science fiction. For instance, let's look at some of the major industries which the human race finds invaluable today:

    Telecommunications: This merger is representative of that. If I were to say name ten telecommunications companies, do you think the average person would be able to do so? (I don't want to count geeks here, because we are either in the telecom industry, or we are looking for the right telecom industry to give us net access)

    Software: Yes, it is an essential facility today. "Productivity" would be nowhere but down the drains if software were not something on many people's work desks. And we all know which company controls a whole bunch of this market...

    Entertainment: While there are some really really big companies here, such as Disney, Time-Warner, and network television, there isn't a 'one source' of entertainment yet. However, it seems inevitable as Disney wants to get into more markets beyond the realm of family & children's programming and Time-Warner wants to get away from the stock-action movie we see so often.

    I'm no expert on the topic, but I'd say there's a lot of corporations that just want to grow bigger and bigger and make their name more and more well known. Luckily, there are no big companies that just produce high quality food and shelter.

    For instance, imagine if there was a company that offered the following:

    Food: The same food Mom used to make, only even better - and much cheaper too. Why can't this happen (yet)? There is no cheap way to mass produce food. Most food comes from growing livestock or fields upon fields of plants.

    Water: It's all around us. All we have to do is go to the ocean and boil us up some fresh water. Albeit, this requires...

    Fuel: Meaning, not gasoline, but we need fuel to cook up all that food... Yes, there is an automated way to do this and there are some big players in this market, but it is also a localized process - unlike software distribution and telecommunications service.

    Shelter: Pop-A-House. Need I say more? (Well, okay.. if a company somehow figured out how to create a really liveable shelter really really fast, with most of the amenities people like, would there be a need besides the want of extravagance (sp?) to go to someone who designs and builds from scratch?)

    Seriously, though, I'm not paranoid about the topic.. but it tickles me that we just kind of let this crap go by... Obviously, this deal might mean that Sprint raises rates. However, it's now harder to fight Sprint from doing this - they have something like 10 times more clout than they had before...

    Well, whatever... I can't think of a good way to end this post, so I'll shut up now.

    - Shaheen
  • I'm not sure exactly how much of Earthlink Sprint owns - they are listed as a 10% Beneficial Owner which means they own 10% of voting stock in earthlink...

    However they also have a fair quantity of "Convertible Preferred Stock" which is non-voting as preferred stock (I don't know what the circumstances for those shares being converted is...)

    The only option I see on the books is for Sprint to purchase stock to retain their ownership level (AKA when and if the merger goes through - Sprint can purchase enough shares to keep the same % of ownership that they had before the merger)

    All of this is available from Earthlinks public SEC documents

    -Nick
  • Well at least Southern Bell didn't win. In that universe you'd have a Ditch-Witch in front of your house for....forever digging up the same fiber line, crippling v.90 & ADSL, breaking the POTS, threatening you with expensive on-premise service calls to fix their problems, pushing I$DN down your throats, pushing Mobility DCS down your throats and generally fscking up.
  • MCI WorldCom is the nation's second biggest long-distance company and one of the world's biggest operators of the networks that make up the Internet, but has no wireless calling business.

    Yet another article that claims that MCI WorldCom doesn't do wireless. But what about http://wireless.mci.com/ [mci.com] ? Admittedly, they use the word "reseller" up front, does that not count? I know they exist because my crazy roommate has service with them on a Motorola 3000. (When her phone isn't on, I do get an AirTouch error.)

  • kinda like how it is here in Australia..

    *looks at current telstra cable prices*
    AU$65/month for 100mb of cable access/month

    its things like that that make me wish i were living closer to the US (tho not actually in the US - i hear dem amerikan folk have guns and weird accents) :)

    *sigh*
    If richie g from telstra is reading this - do us a favor: CUT THE PRICES!

    CyberPuppet

    --
    I'm a fully paid member of AOPAFPAOL (association of people against first posts and other lameness)
  • Same story here. Had MCI, got rid of it because it was poor service for too much $. Kept getting billed (was getting a bill from AT&T and MCI for the same exact calls!), complained, called, wrote letters, bitched, kept getting billed while being told "no you don't have to pay that it's all taken care of", get bills with credit threats, etc., threatened to "gruesomely execute every last one of you shitheads", finally got the state's Public Service Commission to do them in and the bills stopped (it's just a matter of them wanting to stop the bills badly enough...).

    That was about 18 months ago. Friend across the country related an almost identical story to me a few weeks ago (just happened to him). I get a call from some poor telemarketer drone lady (it's not her fault she picked an awful employer) telling me I should "switch to MCI/WorldCom". After telling her "no thanks, not interested" she proceeded to try to sell me on the deal and I told her I had MCI before and it was awful. Her response: "Well, we're MCI/WorldCom now, and things are different". I couldn't help it: "What you ruin my credit first then send me the 6 months of bills for service I didn't order - instead of waiting until later to ruin my credit? Listen, I know it's not your fault, but if anything MCI has gotten worse since they've gotten bigger."

  • You make it sound like these are bad things...

    ...ever hear of economies of scale?
  • Whats really amusing about this is that the Chairman of Sprint dedicated Sprint's $800 million "World Headquaters Campus" in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, KS last Friday

    This is the largest office construction project in the USA (maybe the world) and has been underway for the past couple of years and is (was?) scheduled to be completed in 2001 (IIRC).
    It was designed to house all of Sprints 14,000+ employees in the KC area. Now of course we don't know if "Worldcom" as the new company is known as will keep any employees in KC!
  • You're not kidding. The idea that both MCI and Sprint began as competitors (given a great deal of help under the antitrust hoops that ATT had to go through early on, btw) to the monopoly that was Ma Bell seems now scarily ironic.
  • While I won't argue that AOL doesn't believe that they are, for all intents and purposes, the Internet, you're just wrong -- "Flamebait" or "Troll" would be more accurate than "Informative" for this one.

    The only overlap between the AOL and MCI Worldcom boards is Steve Case himself. There's no overlap, to the best of my knowledge, between Sprint and either AOL or WCOM. I would imagine that Case is on the Worldcom board as a result of Worldcom's purchase of ANS from AOL a couple of years ago. Note that John Sidgemore (former UUnet CEO) and Bert Roberts (MCI CEO) are also on the board.

    If anyone "controls" MCI Worldcom through ownership of stock, it's your grandma. Over 60% of their stock is held by "instututional investors", which generally means pension funds and such.

  • I honestly read this last week on /. and didn't realize they were both phone companies!! Sprint's got one of the best (read: least annoying) sales forces for high speed resellable connections, and the prices are decent too. Compare to MCI (BGP?? I think there's someone here who can help you with that, but he's not in today, sign here.) not to mention prices. Add together UUnet's attempts to not route competitors, Sprint's refusal to propagate anything smaller than a /19, and MCI's BBNPlanet purchase (along with a legacy class A) Be very afraid. It's not quite as simple as choosing your dialup provider. No matter who you buy from, you're only 5-6 hops downstream from the evil empire.
  • As a current Sprint local access customer and previous Bellsouth customer I would GLADLY take Bellsouth over Sprint. With regards to advancing technology and local high speed access Bellsouth is the clear winner. Sprints few high speed services are priced 3 times the national average so please someone save use from this Sprint hell.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looks like Armageddon is in the works.
  • by EggDye ( 41297 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @06:52PM (#1639146) Journal
    Before people start rioting in the streets about this Worldcom/Sprint deal let's inject a bit of fact into the discussion:

    1) No final deal has been made yet. The gist of the article is that MCI/Worldcom have just upped their bid to $100 billion. There are two other competitors, Bellsouth and a German Telecom company that may still update their bids for Sprint.

    2) This deal would have to be approved by federal regulators, and this is not by any means a given. As the article states, Bill Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said, We cannot allow any merger to happen in this industry that turns back the clock on that competition."

    In my humble opinion, those are two pretty damn big IF's.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sprintlink has been a major bottleneck for
    me for a long time. If it weren't for the
    reduced competetition, I'd be saying:

    Die Evil Sprintlink, DIE.

    But monopoly is no good either. What's better,
    cheap and shitty service, or expensive and good
    service? Well expensive and unknown actually.
    Can't see how it'd get worse than sprintlink though.

  • by RobNich ( 85522 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @07:01PM (#1639148) Homepage
    When MCI and WorldCom merged, my company couldn't talk to anyone for a full 18 months!! We signed a three-year contract in April 1997, so we can't change services until next April. We've been taking bids and MCI seems to have the absolute worst pricing...
    But what about the MCI frame relay outage? A full week, and they continued to lie to their customers about it! "It'll be back up in an hour," when they knew they had lost a major piece of equipment!
    I'll go with *anyone* but MCI, and until today, that included Sprint!
    This is not good news for any company that would like to enjoy good service at a competitive price.

    The telecomm industry is weird (though no weirder than other industries, I'm sure...)-- here's a good example:

    Cincinnati Bell, formerly owned by "Bell" (along with Bell Labs, AT&T, et al), now independant. Owns Cincinnati Bell Telephone (CBT), a local telephone company. Also owns Cincinnati Bell Long Distance (CBLD), a long distance carrier competing in some cities (including Cincinnati) with AT&T.
    CBT has a relationship with AT&T, and shares switches with them. Also uses AT&T's wireless PCS network, providing national coverage. If you call AT&T for long distance service, the salesrep will hand you a card with Cincinnati Bell's logo on it, as well as AT&T's. CBLD bought IXE, and can now offer frame relay and dedicated long distance services in many major cities.
    If you call CBT, they'll recommend AT&T for LD service. CBT can't provide long distance service (though most Local Exchange Carriers can nowadays) because of their relationship with ATT. ATT can't provide local service correctly-- if someone wants to call you, they'll have to dial 1-NXX-NXX-XXXX, and pay long distance charges for a local call!

    WEIRD!

  • by Geraint ( 85162 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @07:02PM (#1639149) Homepage
    Fair comments, but I think it's more of a done deal than you suggest.

    It's been in the offing for ages, and it's a nice fit particularly with the Sprint PCS wireless business. Bell South isn't a serious competitor given the regulatory hurdles, which aren't too bad for Sprint & MCI at all given their overlap. The European telecoms companies are all screwed up after the Telecom Italia fiasco and not seriously in the running.

    There's a good long story at the NYT [nytimes.com] that covers many of these issues and also an editorialat the Economist. [economist.com]
  • This isn't final yet. If you read the article, it's good to remember that BellSouth or even Deutsche Telekom could still steal Sprint out from under MCI's nose...
  • One MILLION dollars!
    ... I mean ...
    One... hundered... BILLION... dollars!

    Coincidence?

    Jeff Higgins
    www.hal9000.cc
  • by Juln ( 41313 )
    I have always enjoyed sprint and found them to be a great deal less irritating than MCI or ATT. As a sprint customer, I am not pleased.
  • you should try to find an isp that isnt routed through their network - just try switching around. I used to have an ISP in New Mexico that sent all my packets to Utah before anywhere else, to this horrid cw.net server that was always overloaded.


    I switched and found a much better connection. My recommendation is to try some other ISPS, asking who their provider can be helpful.
  • USWest was already bought by Qwest, so I dont think MCI will be doing that.

    Also, USWest offers DSL in over 40 markets, including Phoenix, Seattle, Sioux Falls, Denver etc. etc.

    USWest doesn't have a 'complete grip' on the west. They used to, but that was when phone service was everything! Also, these are long distance companies being discussed, and USWest is blocked by law from offering home long distance service.

    Additionally, I have been a subscriber to their 56k dialup service in both Albuquerque and Duluth and it really as wasn't bad as you make it sound.
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @08:52PM (#1639160) Homepage Journal

    <RANT>

    And exactly who is this merger supposed to benefit?

    Certainly not me. I just lost another long-distance company from which to choose. And it was one of the better ones. Now we're left with the whose ethics have been, at best, grey.

    GTE/Sprint laid down a brand new fiber network, anticipating bandwidth demands of the future. Meanwhile, MCI, you may remember, is the company that invented slamming (changing your long distance provider behind your back). They also invented "Friends and Family," marketed as a way for you to get marginally cheaper LD service, but was in reality a way for them to get priceless demographic data: A fully connected graph of who knows who.

    I fail to see why Sprint saw the need to sell out. Bigger is not better. Service is not going to get better. Phone rates are not going to get cheaper (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the "costs" of the merger were passed on to MCI/Sprint customers).

    My cynical nature suspect this deal was done just to make a few dozen rich executives even richer. Can someone help me understand how this is a good thing for me?

    </RANT>

    Schwab

  • by troutman ( 26963 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @09:14PM (#1639161) Homepage
    Hey, I even own some FON (Sprint) and PCS (Sprint PCS) stock, and I think this is bad idea. Set aside the long distance telephone service stuff (which is a whole other topic), and just look at the Internet side of it. A combined Sprint/MCI WorldCom would have control over way too much of the Internet.

    MCI Worldcom has UUNET, as well as what was ANS, and they provide network services to AOL. The run some of the MAEs. They have lots of connections and POPs outside the US, too. They are probably providing backbone services to about 25% of the Internet (they were backbone for 20.45% of the ISPs in north america according to the winter 98 boardwatch directory). They are just huge.

    Sprint IP Services is the backbone for another good chunk of the Internet -- probably another 25% (22.39% of the '98 NA ISP market per boardwatch). Sprint runs the New York NAP. They own a 28% stake in EarthLink, btw, (prior to the EarthLink/MindSpring merger). Post merger, EarthLink will have about 3 million subs, which they say will make them the #2 dialup ISP in the world.

    So, post-merger McISprintCom would be providing backbone services to something like 50% of the other Internet providers in the world, including AOL (12+ million subs), and will have a "broad business relationship" with EarthLink (3+ million subs).

    And this is just counting backbone connections for ISPs and some of the subs -- I imagine that in terms of actual flow of packets (total sent/recieved on the whole network, transit and peering arraingments) they would have a bigger percentage, because WorldCom/UUNET/ANS and Sprint also have (as far as I know) the majority of the really fast pipes (OC-48s and OC-192s) on the Internet, and the BFRs to go with them.

    Hmm, talk about a good company for the NSA to buddy up to for installing packet sniffers....

    Just as MCI was forced to sell of Internet business of MCI (to cable and wireless) before the MCI/WorldCom merger was completed, they will probably be forced to sell off some of their Internet provider holdings -- they question is, who will buy them, and what sort of new mess will that be?
  • If just one person got a Sprint and MCI dialup account and posted their name and password (accidentally of course) to the net, everyone could boycott these companies while using their service for free! Ergo don't pay money to monster ISP's if you can help it. Support your local ISP! Force ISP's to delivery innovative quality service.

    P.S. Sprint has lots of right of way assets for stringing fiber and cable. This merger could place the deeds to this countries wiring in serious monopolistic jeopordy.

    P.S.S. me thinks the cable companies are even more dastardly than the telcos
  • And don't even get me started on the wierdness of what the MCI/WorldCom merger did to my frame relay service: My service was "given" to Cable & Wireless, 'cause MCI/WorldCom could no longer be the "internet" business (I had my internet over it). But the Remote LAN Dial service that is also on that frame relay connection is still owned by MCI/WorldCom. If it stops working, who gets called? Who is responsible? Oh and did I mention that the T-1 the frame relay is on is provided by MCI WorldCom, and delivered to the building by Cincinnati Bell? Three friggin companies that will blame each other.

    This is kinda off topic, but you see a result of their last merger...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yep, corporations know that all you have to do is appease the masses with shiny trinkets so that they won't take stock into what is really happening in the world around them.
  • Ya ya, another reply to myself, but... when I said we couldn't talk to anyone for 18 months, I meant noone called us back. Our salesrep was gone, each time they game us a name, they left or were transferred... Fortunately the voice service stayed running for the most part, we just couldn't get anything changed.

  • MCI totally screwed a couple of friends of mine over a while back. To make a long story short, they got billed hundreds of dollars for services they hadn't used. When they refused to pay, they were assessed with a late fees while customer service gave them the runaround. Eventually, they finally got the company to drop the original misbilling, but were still forced to pay the late fees on all of it! Is that idiotic or what?

    Sprint has always been kind of gimmickey with their services, in my experience. Always calling with annoying "offers" and then hitting with nasty surchanges in the fine print. Also, their service is substandard. When we tried 'em for a while, there would often be static and hiss on the line.

    So, now, the two evil forces of the telecommunications world have become one. On the bright side, it means one less company to avoid though. :)

  • I'd be quite amazed if the SEC didn't let this happen, given that it doesn't have the legal right to block mergers. The only government organizations that have a say in this are the FCC (Telecom. Act), Justice (Hart-Scott-Rodino), and the FTC (Hart-Scott-Rodino).
  • Wouldn't the griping body be the FTC, instead of the SEC? I thought the SEC just policed insider trading and similar securities-related stuff. Isn't the FTC's mandate to prevent companies from getting too big for their britches?

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