MCI chief nurtures ambition of global network
Sunday 14 May 1995
Mr Roberts is a techno-freak. He loves playing with his computers and is lost without his portable laptop. Where other people have to have a cigarette before doing anything else in the morning, he has to check his e-mail. "If you pulled the plug on it, the company would cease to operate," he says. What he does not particularly like doing is travelling around, meeting his staff or holding morale-building parties. Impersonal e-mail, colleagues point out, suits his personality.
MCI was founded by William McGowan as Microwave Communications of America in 1968, and has grown to become one of the biggest telephone carriers in the world.
It had a turnover of $13.3bn last year, and employs 40,000 people. It claims that it has the second-largest digital network in the world, which cost $10bn to install.
Although it had been carrying phone calls before, MCI's big break came in the early 1980s, when Ma Bell, aka AT&T, was broken up by the anti- trust authorities.
Mr McGowan was one of the leaders in the battle to break Ma Bell's power. The so-called Baby Bells took over as regional phone companies, while AT&T itself became a long-distance operator. It soon found itself competing with two other companies, MCI and Sprint.
MCI is still a distant second to AT&T in the long-distance market, with a 17 per cent share of the market, but the gap has been closing. Much of this is due to aggressive marketing - MCI invented the "friends and family" discount scheme now available in Britain, for example. But Mr Roberts has always had ambitions beyond the long-distance phone market.
He has an unashamed aim to run a broadband network that would circle the globe, which is why he sold 20 per cent of the company to BT in 1993. He would also love to break the Baby Bells' lock on local markets. MCI tried to buy a wireless telephony company, Nextel, and has been looking at links with cable companies. It still has money left in the piggy bank after Rupert Murdoch's News Cororation link-up: stand by for more acquisitive e-mail from the energetic Mr Roberts.
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial – with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali 2014: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991 with most Brits wanting to stay in'
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
iJobs Money & Business
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...