Telecom moves focus on customer

Business moves by two leading telecommunications firms promise to speed

development of new technologies and improve service to customers, including

those at government agencies.

Sprint Corp. launched an electronic-solutions business unit Nov. 13

that joins its Sprint Internet Services and Sprint Enterprise Network Services

units. The new Sprint e-Solutions will offer an array of products for e-government,

particularly the expansion of data centers and hosting capabilities, according

to a Sprint spokesman.

On Nov.1, WorldCom Inc. announced it would realign its businesses into

two separately traded tracking stocks: WorldCom for the company's data,

Internet, hosting and international businesses; and MCI for consumer, small

business, wholesale long-distance voice and dial-up Internet-access operations.

"We restructured the company to ensure [that] the way the financial

markets look at WorldCom, and the way we invest in WorldCom, can be done

in a more balanced way," said Ron McMurtrie, vice president of business

product marketing at WorldCom.

Sprint and WorldCom are providing telecommunications circuits and services

to all federal agencies under the $1.5 billion FTS 2001 contract. The changes

at both companies will result in similar data-services offerings.

The new Sprint e-Solutions unit will provide services that include transport;

Web co-location and managed hosting; remote systems management; managed

security services; virtual private networks; application and database management

and reliability; repair services; and professional services from design

to implementation.

Under this arrangement, for example, Sprint could host in a secure environment

a social service agency's customer interface and back-office products, the

Sprint spokesman said. As government begins to be operated more like a business,

Sprint e-Solutions will have a larger impact on government solutions, he

said.

Sprint estimates that by 2003, 94 percent of its revenue will be derived

from hosting, data and managed services.

Investments as a result of the realignment at WorldCom include Web centers,

McMurtrie said. Web centers are multimedia customer-care centers that expand

call centers to include Web chats and e-mail, he said.

Another area WorldCom will expand is global virtual private networks,

which McMurtrie expects will be attractive to government customers. "It

offers the security of a private network with the convenience and open standards

of the public Internet," he said.

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