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AT&T, MCI Expected To Beef-Up Enterprise Solutions

When MCI announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to provide Volvo with 32,000 remote-access links, the deal illustrated that there is still healthy life for long-distance providers in the wake of last week's access-fee developments that are viewed as disastrous for the long-distance companies.

MCI's agreement with Volvo IT calls for MCI to provide IP remote access for more than 150 countries via dial-up and Wi-Fi services.

The Volvo contract could be a harbinger of a wholesale move away from local consumer markets by the long-distance companies--AT&T is the other long-distance giant--and towards the enterprise market.

"The big savings in the enterprise market still come when you move to facilities-based service from AT&T and MCI," said Pete Wilson, of Telwares Telecommunications. "For instance, they have been laying cable into buildings for eight years now and they're not dependent on the RBOCs there."

While both AT&T and MCI have indicated the chilling effect from access fees will cause them to gradually vacate local consumer-oriented markets, they are likely to address enterprise markets with renewed vigor. The long-distance firms say they can't connect to the former RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Companies) local links at rates they believe can be profitable for them.

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