WorldCom's Sidgmore: Opportunities In Telco Still Exist

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The telecom market may be down but it's not out, said John Sidgmore, vice chairman of WorldCom.

In an era of deep losses in the telco industry, areas for growth still exist--although they will differ from the types of services considered promising during the boom years of the late 1990s, Sidgmore told a group at the SuperNet convention here.

"Everyone has a lot of gloom and doom on their minds, but there are still tremendous opportunities in this market," he said.

Sidgmore is looking to wireless voice, wireless data and local data services to boost revenue in the future. He also believes demand for Internet access will grow and e-commerce will eventually fulfill on its growth potential.

In the wireless market, Sidgmore said demand for wireless data access and devices will proliferate. "It's not just the gadgets," he said. "It's the business [uses that will sell these things."

As an example, Sidgmore pointed out that many car manufacturers are putting wireless interfaces into new cars. Those interfaces allow dealers to monitor a car's systems and notify the owner when the car has a problem. That in turn has the potential to boost a particular dealer's revenue, he said.

Interactive voice messaging is another technology Sidgmore believes has potential. Smart devices of the future will not only carry traditional PDA information but will also be able to monitor traffic for commuters or alert a home owner is there is trouble with a property, he said.

Broadband demand will continue to grow, although slower than some analysts originally predicted, Sidgmore said. Videoconferencing, telecommuting, telemedicine and distance learning will pick up as broadband becomes more ubiquitous, he said.

To increase consumer usage, Sidgmore said he also believes improved voice recognition will power hands-free browsers that easily connect users via voice commands

He's also still bullish on e-commerce. Sidgmore, who also serves as chairman and CEO of ECI2, a Vienna, Va.-based provider of e-commerce services to the office-products industry, said the benefits from e-commerce will eventually win over the market.

"E-commerce has been a joke in a lot of ways because growth has been so slow," he said. But the technology still offers the ability to streamline purchasing for businesses around the world, he added.

"There is no way e-commerce will not be an important piece of the landscape," he said.

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