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MCI WorldCom boosts network

The combined companies are marrying frame relay with Internet technology to give businesses added benefits.

MCI and WorldCom are starting to show some fruit from their recent merger with the announcement today that the combined company is marrying frame relay and Internet technologies.

Called the Frame Relay Internet Gateway, the new system allows the use of MCI's frame relay and Internet backbone to link dispersed networks.

"This marries the inherent benefits of frame relay, namely security and reliability, and the benefits of the Internet--its ubiquity and ease of use," said Jim DeMerlis, MCI WorldCom's vice president of business product marketing. "Customers should not have to worry about the connection."

MCI WorldCom is setting up six regional nodes into which customers can hook their frame relay. The idea is that the users will have a single entry point to the Internet then deliver that access to offices around the county over its private frame relay network. The users can also run increasingly popular Internet applications and still have the security of a frame relay connection.

MCI WorldCom may have hit on a lucrative market. According to analyst firm Vertical Systems Group in Dedham, Massachusetts, 77 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies user frame relay services, and 96 percent plan to extend their Internet use and possibly add Internet applications during the next year.

Pricing for the system will be based on two factors: the gateway bandwidth and amount of security. The bandwidth issue is dependent on the number of users that are to be hooked up using basic Internet connection pipes such as whether a company needs a T1 connection or something smaller or larger.

The security issue is dependent on a company needs, whether simple firewall-like protection is needed or something more extensive, according to John Scarborough, MCI WorldCom's director of virtual data services.

The system initially consists of six nodes on the MCI WorldCom backbone in the United States only. Plans are to expand that early next year to Western Europe and then Asia Pacific sometime after that.