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  PC-Net's PC News - July 2002
Don Watkins

Worldcom Meltdown

By Don Watkins



July  2002-- 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 the network.

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:

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Click on image to enlarge

The Possibility

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?

How Come?

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 solvent.

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.

Until next time best in computing.

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