The service, called Concert InternetPlus, will be offered by Concert, a joint venture of the two companies. Concert InternetPlus will provide Internet access directly to businesses through 1,200 locations in 70 countries, according to the companies.
The companies expect the service to expand the overall international capacity of the Internet by more than 30 percent through regional superhubs that will initially be established in Australia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This summer, additional hubs will be established in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, with hubs planned for Asia and South and Latin America later in the year. Together, the two companies plan to spend more than $100 million this year to roll out the new service.
Although the service will be marketed to Internet service providers and telephone carriers as well, the service is primarily aimed at businesses building corporate intranets. The companies expect Concert InternetPlus to offer higher speed access and more reliable service than currently available connections. MCI will offer connections in the United States at 155 mbps.
Other phone companies are also racing to supply high-speed backbone service. AT&T is expected to launch a similar service later this year, but analysts don't expect that service to rival the quality of service offered by Concert InternetPlus.
"If Concert meets its schedule, they will be way ahead of their competitors," said Eric Paulak, a research analyst with market research firm The Gartner Group. "Some ISPs are offering these services on a global basis already, but [Concert InternetPlus] will offer a unified global network controlled and monitored by one company," Paulak said. "AT&T uses a loosely connected coalition of partners in Europe and will be slower to deliver, and neither PSINet nor UUNet will be able to deliver [a unified network] controlled by them."
Providing Internet access is the fastest growing part of MCI's business, said president and COO Jerry Taylor. Business is growing at a rate of 20 percent per month, he said, and could represent more than $2 billion per year in revenue for MCI by the year 2000.
Concert will sell services via 34 existing distributors. Taylor said the companies have already signed up their first new distributor, NTT Data, to sell Concert InternetPlus services in Japan.