MCI Saga Continues

What does surprise some is MCI's ability to emerge from bankruptcy relatively unscathed and with little consequences, despite the cloud of controversy still surrounding the carrier.

"I see the financial folks saying MCI will still emerge from bankruptcy, but I can't believe Congress is not going to intervene at some point, because [MCI] just keeps stinking," said the CEO of a master agent, who requested anonymity.

Based on the allegations of rerouting, late last week the General Services Administration suspended federal business with MCI.

Solution providers and analysts were quick to point out that even if the allegations prove to be true, MCI, Ashburn, Va., is most likely not the only service provider that has rerouted traffic to avoid access charges.

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"I'm not surprised by the whole thing. Like many telecom professionals, I've often heard that some carriers used that same scheme to get around higher long-distance rates with the [regional Bell operating company]," said an executive with another master agent, who also requested anonymity. "It appears clear that the old regime at MCI had perfected the art of bending the rules in telecom better than most."

Danny Briere, CEO of TeleChoice, a research and consulting firm based in Boston, said he believes several players have been involved in the practice of rerouting traffic for years.

"I find it hard to believe this is an isolated incident, considering that everyone was doing whatever they could to limit exposure to access fees for years," Briere said. "Even private companies wanted to avoid long-distance calls being routed over their private networks."

Michael Capellas, chairman and CEO of MCI, released a statement last week assuring that MCI was fully cooperating with the investigation and that any wrongdoing uncovered would be met with "zero tolerance."