ITXPO - Capellas says MCI to stress wireless

MCI CEO Michael Capellas used this week's Gartner Symposium/ ITxpo to preview what's next for the embattled carrier, assuming it leaps what might be its final hurdle before emerging from bankruptcy protection.

This week, the federal bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York is expected to hold a hearing to confirm MCI's reorganization plan.

While it's not known how long the judge will deliberate when the hearing concludes, it's possible that MCI might begin 2004 free and clear.

If that's the case, expect to hear a lot from MCI on the mobility and convergence fronts. But don't expect MCI to build its own wireless network, given that there are six national wireless service providers already operating.

"Will you see us be pretty aggressive in partnering in the wireless space? You bet," Capellas said.

MCI could team with wireless carriers such as Cingular Wireless LLC, Nextel Communications Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. that could use MCI to provide the local, long-distance or Internet access pieces to a well-rounded service bundle.

MCI exited the wireless wholesale services market soon after it filed for bankruptcy protection in the summer of 2002 and also sold off its local fixed wireless network. Its paging business is on the auction block.

Capellas also said customers can expect to see more converged voice and data services from MCI. Even through bankruptcy the carrier played up its MCI Advantage services that support voice and data over a single Internet access line.

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