MCI gets call for pay phones in Albania

MCI Worldcom next week plans to install a satellite-based pay telephone facility to serve 2,000 troops stationed at a base in Tirana, Albania.

Diana Gowen, executive director for the Defense Department and national infrastructure programs at MCI Worldcom Government Markets, said the company plans to move a satellite terminal that had been providing service to the now-shuttered U.S. embassy in Albania to the Tirana airbase, which houses troops supporting the operation of 24 Army Apache helicopters slated for use in Kosovo, and a battery of rocket launchers.

MCI decided to use the satellite terminal because of the limited communications infrastructure in Albania, the poorest country in Europe, Gowen said. MCI plans to deliver the pay phones off of a contract the company's Government Markets recently won with the Army Air Force Exchange Service.

Steve Lefrancois, senior technical manager for MCI Worldcom Government Markets, said the company has scrambled to respond to the AAFES request for service in Albania, "which we received just yesterday."

Lefrancois said the company initially plans to install between eight and 12 phones that troops can use with prepaid phone cards purchased from AAFES. He said the company can also provide Internet service through the AAFES contract, but has not yet been asked to do so in Albania.

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