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MCI Unveils Private, Metro Ethernet Services

Even as it struggles to stay in control of its own fiscal destiny, MCI Inc. on Tuesday announced plans to deliver new private and metro-area Ethernet services, which are meant to simplify and improve businesses' wide-area and Internet connections.

Part of a new strategy dubbed "Converged Packet Access," MCI's Ethernet offerings are the first step in a planned convergence to an entirely packet-based infrastructure of Ethernet and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology. Under the CPA umbrella, MCI said it plans to offer the ability to consolidate all current types of wide-area traffic, including Frame Relay, ATM, IP VPNs and even voice, onto a single Ethernet connection to the customer premise.

In a statement, MCI said next month it will offer private Ethernet services for the first time, allowing enterprises to connect Ethernet LANs without any conversion to a traditional wide-area networking format, such as Frame Relay or ATM. MCI said it will use an Ethernet-over-SONET implementation to support the private Ethernet services. MCI did not announce costs or where the services would be available.

In the metro Ethernet space, MCI said it will offer faster connectivity speeds of 10 Mbps, 40 Mbps and 100 Mbps, also beginning in August. Later this year, MCI said it plans to add metro-area support for direct storage-networking communications. MCI also said it is planning to expand its dedicated Ethernet Internet connection service from five to 25 markets by September. The service, MCI said, provides Internet access at speeds ranging from 1 Mbps to 600 Mbps, with Gigabit links available "upon request."

While Metro Ethernet and private Ethernet services are certainly a desirable future wish for many enterprise customers, whether or not MCI is around to realize their earning potential is another question that may be answered in a shorter time-frame. Last week, investor actions put MCI's new stock in play, not too long after the company had successfully emerged from the bankruptcy brought about by the accounting scandals from when the firm was previously known as WorldCom.

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