MCI Communications

From Academic Kids

For the corporation that has used the MCI brand name since 1998, and operated under the MCI name since 2003, see WorldCom. MCI is also the airport code for the Kansas City International Airport in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

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MCI's corporate logo

MCI Communications was an American telecommunications company headquartered in Washington, D.C.. It was instrumental in pushing legal and regulatory changes that led to the breakup of the AT&T monopoly that dominated American telephony before the 1980s. The corporation was purchased by WorldCom in 1998.

Before it was acquired, MCI was the second largest long-distance provider in the United States.


MCI was founded as Microwave Communications, Inc. in 1963 by John Goeken to offer long-distance telephone service for businesses between Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. When it ran into problems competing with AT&T, which at the time had a government-supported monopoly in telephone service, it moved to Washington, D.C. to be close to federal regulators and lawmakers. The joke is that in its early years, MCI had more lawyers than land lines. The antitrust lawsuit that it filed against AT&T eventually led to the company's breakup by regulators, reshaping the nation's telecommunications.

MCI was licensed by the Federal Communications Commission in 1969 and began service under the name MCI Communications in 1970.

In 1991, British Telecommunications PLC purchased 20% of the company and later made an offer to purchase the rest in 1996. At the same time, GTE, now a part of Verizon, made a bid to purchase MCI for an all-cash purchase. Instead, MCI merged with WorldCom, Inc. on November 10, 1997 in a stock-swap deal valued at US$34.7 billion, creating MCI WorldCom. On September 15, 1998 the new company, MCI WorldCom, opened for business.

For subsequent history, see WorldCom.

MCI innovations

After the opening of the long distance market in 1984, companies such as MCI and Sprint were able to compete for customers with AT&T. A marketing strategy employed by MCI was the Friends & Family plan, an early type of loyalty program. In this program, customers would receive a reduced rate when both the caller and callee were MCI customers.

The company also employed a type of typosquatting to boost its revenues. When AT&T introduced the "1-800-OPERATOR", MCI started an identical service at "1-800-OPERATER". AT&T's marketing combined with people misspelling operator allowed MCI to benefit.

In 1995 MCI introduced 1-800-MUSIC-NOW, a short-lived telephone-based and online music store.


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