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(WILliams TELecommunications Group) An international long distance carrier and network services provider, formed in 1987 by a merger of Williams Telecommunications Company and LDX Net, Inc. WilTel grew by acquiring several companies and was the first to offer fractional T3 service and high-capacity, switched digital lines for videoconferencing. In 1994, it was acquired by WorldCom. See WorldCom.


The former name of MCI. Based in Jackson, MS, WorldCom, Inc. was a major, international telecommunications carrier. It was founded in 1983 by Bernard E--ers as Long Distance Discount Service (LDDS), a reseller of AT&T WATS lines to small businesses. LDDS grew by acquiring more than 70 companies, including IDB WorldCom, a leading international carrier whose name it adopted; WilTel, a major telecom carrier; and MFS Communications, an international phone company and parent of UUNET, a prominent Internet provider.

In 1997, the network operations of America Online and CompuServe became part of WorldCom. It also merged with Brooks Fiber and then acquired MCI, making it the second largest long distance carrier in the U.S. In 2002, WorldCom filed for bankruptcy after disclosing it had inflated profits for the prior two years by USD $3.8 billion. The amount was later found to be more than $10 billion, making it the largest accounting fraud in U.S. corporate history.

In April 2004, WorldCom emerged from bankruptcy and changed its name to MCI, which it acquired in 1998. MCI was founded in 1968 by William McGowan as Microwave Communications of America. Throughout the 1970s, McGowan led the battle to offer competitive long distance services in the U.S., cracking the monopoly of AT&T.

Ironically, having shed $36 billion in debt, WorldCom emerged from bankruptcy with a better balance sheet than most of its competitors. It also wound up with a corporate name respected for its pioneering efforts in telecom. One year later, MCI was acquired by Verizon. See MCI.

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