Cable & Wireless has officially launched itself as one of the US' largest Internet service providers.
Despite being relatively unknown in the US, the UK company says it can hang on to its inherited subscribers.
Over 300,000 InternetMCI subscribers were acquired by Cable & Wireless when it bought MCI's Internet business for $1.75 billion in September. The sale was necessary before regulators would approve MCI's merger with Worldcom.
On Monday the UK company officially launched its American ISP, called Cable & Wireless Internet Xperience (CWIX). The service offers 150 hours of dial-up Internet access for $14.95 per month, the same price charged by InternetMCI.
But former InternetMCI subscribers could now be tempted to jump ship from the relatively unknown C&W to MCI's new partner Worldcom, operator of America's Internet access giant UUNet.
However, C&W says its customers are more interested in service than a name. "We think we can enter the market very effectively not as Cable & Wireless, but as a company providing superior Internet access," said Rich Yalen, CEO of Cable & Wireless USA.
Customer support and service are areas CWIX hopes to excel in, according to Yalen, and the service will include heavily staffed telephone support lines. "One of the real problems in the US is getting someone to answer the phone [at an ISP helpdesk]," he said.
Millions of dollars will be spent on advertising to promote brand awareness, said Yalen. "We are aggressively going out with an ad campaign - we will get the name out," he said.
In addition to dial-up Internet access, Cable & Wireless will offer subscribers discounted long distance telephone calls. Calls will be charged at seven cents a minute during the week and five cents a minute at weekends.
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