If you're not invested in the stock market or Worldcom in particular
it may not appear to be a big deal. The media typically describes
them as the number 2 long distance provider but Worldcom also
runs/owns UUNET, one of the largest Internet backbone suppliers on
Perhaps Not a Big Deal
It's probably nothing. Worldcom may work something
out but if they don't the recent carnage in the telecomm business
doesn't leave a lot of companies out there that could pick up their
assets and keep their network in operation.
The UUNET network
In addition of providing a lot of major ISP's with
their own "branded" version of access points (for example it appears
to me that MSN simply buys their ISP infrastructure and POP's from
UUNET.) That represents a lot of access points.
In addition UUNET provides a huge backbone
operation in the US:
Click on image to enlarge
Worldcom certainly isn't the only backbone
provider, but my estimate is that they carry between 40-50% of
traffic. While there are many other backbone players if there wasn't
a salvage operation to save Worldcom's infrastructure and operation
it would signify a major change in how the Internet works.
Is it Likely?
Probably not, the aforementioned salvage operation
would likely kick in, but it begs the question; has the Internet
been designed to be as robust financially as it should be?
I rarely let my ignorance get in the way of my
opinion and I will stress that I don't know where the shortfall was
at Worldcom that caused what appeared to be slight of hand to
misclassify expenses. Nor is there no doubt that the long distance
business has suffered greatly in the last several years and that may
be the root cause. But nonetheless it requires the question; do we
pay enough for Internet access?
I Don't Know
I must admit I had an financial interest in
private networks when the government decided to open the Internet
to everyone. I participated in a private network (eventually sold to Worldcom) that the Internet killed. Yes, the private network was
more expensive, but of course there were far fewer users but it was
The Wrong Model?
So perhaps have we created the wrong model for how
the Internet infrastructure is funded? For instance the US lags far
behind some countries in high speed connections. Granted they're
much smaller geographically and much easier to wire but still should
higher speed access be available in metro areas like it is in S.
Korea or Japan?
I have no answers, but perhaps it's an area that
we don't often think about but deserves a second look.