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 Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 3 Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Jackie Chan in second place in Forbes' Highest Paid Actors list after magazine includes actors working outside US movie industry
Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
iJobs Money & Business
£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...