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 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...