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 WASHINGTON, July 29 /PRNewswire/ -- MCI announced today that it has signed agreements in principle to form a broad-based consortium that would provide Personal Communications Services (PCS) in areas serving 50 percent of the U.S. population including the contiguous United States, Alaska and Puerto Rico. MCI expects to bring additional companies into this national consortium in the future to serve the remaining U.S. population.
 The more than 150 participating companies, who have reached agreements in principle through letters of intent, represent telephony, cable television, paging services, utilities and publishing and include: Times Mirror Cable Television, ALLTEL, Landmark, and GCI, among others. The consortium also includes entrepreneurial PCN experimental licensees, businesses serving rural areas and competitive access providers (CAPS).
 The FCC is currently considering the appropriate licensing mechanisms for the provision of PCS. Provided that the FCC allows the participation by consortia in the licensing of PCS and that national PCS licenses are granted, the consortium, organized by MCI will file for a national PCS license with the FCC.
 In creating a competitive market structure for PCS through national consortia, opportunities exist for minority-owned businesses, women- owned businesses and small businesses. Several such companies have signed agreements with MCI including SEMA, an information systems and services company, and Barden Communications, which offers cable television service in the inner city of Detroit and is the fifth largest black-owned company in the U.S. Barden will be the local PCS provider in the greater Detroit area. TPI Communications International, a women- owned business, is the largest paging company in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
 "The companies signing agreements today bring to the table valuable expertise in technology, distribution and service," said Gerald H. Taylor, president of MCI Consumer Markets. "Today's announcement is another step in MCI's strategy ultimately to provide personal communications services to consumers everywhere." "We are pleased to have the opportunity to pursue our participation in the emerging PCS market -- particularly with this consortium, which has to represent the most formidable contender for a national PCS license," said Joe T. Ford, chairman and CEO of ALLTEL.
 "The national deployment of PCS will enhance consumer availability of services ranging from basic wireless telephone service to highly sophisticated information services," said Larry Wangberg, president and CEO of Times Mirror Cable Television. "Times Mirror Cable believes that the diverse players in this national consortium will expedite the delivery of these high appeal services to the mass consumer market."
 Cable companies including Times Mirror Cable, Jones Lightwave, Columbia International and Susquehanna Cable Co. bring existing distribution infrastructure and technical experience based on their experimentation with Personal Communications Network (PCN) technologies. Utility companies including Montana Power's TRI subsidiary have established local presence which will lower the cost of providing these services.
 "We are beginning to see companies combine their strengths to serve this future market, and Montana Power is delighted that our subsidiary, TRI Touch America, will join MCI to provide high-quality, competitive, up-to-date voice, data and information communication services to the Northern Rocky Mountain region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming," said Dan Berube, Montana Power Company's chairman and CEO.
 MCI's Taylor adds, "Independent telephone companies bring telecommunications expertise and a history of high-quality service to the public. Their membership in the consortium greatly enhances widespread coverage of PCS networks. PCS is the ability to communicate, regardless of location, using lightweight hand-held telephones."
 Iowa Network Services (INS) and Minnesota Equal Access Network Services (MEANS), in conjunction with their independent telephone company (ITC) stockholders in Iowa and Minnesota will provide coverage in their respective states. Kansas Personal Communications, Inc., an organization of 21 ITCs, will provide coverage for the state of Kansas and GCI will provide coverage for the state of Alaska. Other independents, such as Prairie Grove Telephone in Arkansas and Northwest Iowa Telephone of South Dakota, will also ensure that the consortium's coverage extends to non-urban markets.
 Small and entrepreneurial businesses play a key role in the consortium. A small PCN experimenter, Wisconsin Wireless, is already in the business of interconnecting with local wireless and wireline systems. In addition, StarPage, a privately held radio paging utility serving approximately 1,000 customers, has also agreed to participate in the consortium.
 "StarPage is pleased to support MCI's efforts to bring PCS to the nation. This enlightened approach will give small entrepreneurs an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new industry -- that's an approach that makes good business sense," said James Hoff, president of StarPage.
 Headquartered in Washington, MCI is the nation's second largest long distance provider. The fastest growing carrier of international traffic among the top 20 largest international carriers, MCI offers clear, high quality direct dial services to more than 250 countries and places. MCI offers consumers savings and superior customer service through a number of products and services, including: Friends & Family, MCI PrimeTime, MCI HomeConnect, 1-800-COLLECT, The MCI VideoPhone, MCI Friends Around the World, MCI Call USA, the MCI Card and the Friends and Family Card.
 Barden Communications
 Columbia International
 Concord Telephone
 Crico Communications Corp.
 INS (131 ITC Companies)
 Jones Lightwave
 Kansas Personal Communications, Inc. (21 ITC Companies)
 Landmark Communications
 Lexington Telephone
 MEANS (58 ITC Company Shareholders)
 North State Telephone
 Northwest Iowa Telephone
 Prarie Grove Telephone
 Susquehanna Cable Co.
 Systems Engineering Management Associates, Inc. (SEMA)
 Teleport Denver
 Times Mirror Cable Television
 TPI Communications International
 TRI Touch America (subsidiary of Montana Power)
 Wisconsin Wireless
 -0- 7/29/93
 /CONTACT: Debra Shriver or Kate Fralin of MCI, 800-436-9749/

CO: MCI ST: District of Columbia IN: TLS SU: PDT

TW-DS -- DC002 -- 7139 07/29/93 09:08 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 29, 1993

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