WorldCom moving wireless users to other carriers

ITworld.com –

Wireless customers of WorldCom Inc. are being prompted to transfer their business to other U.S. wireless carriers to avoid an interruption in service, the company said Tuesday.

The company previously resold wireless service from U.S. carriers to customers, who will start receiving letters in the mail with instructions on how to switch their accounts to one of the five carriers affiliated with WorldCom: Verizon Wireless Inc., Cingular Wireless LLC, AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Alltel Corp., and a fifth carrier that isn't being disclosed yet, said a WorldCom spokesman.

Wireless customers are being assigned a transition provider, in most cases the same provider that carried their wireless calls under WorldCom's resale programs, said Les Kumagai, a WorldCom spokesman. The features and services offered under WorldCom's plans are similar to those offered by the respective carriers, so in most cases customers will maintain the same level of services, he said.

Depending on the transitional provider, different deadlines will be in place for customers to switch their service to a carrier to avoid headaches such as having to switch phone numbers, Kumagai said. He urged customers to carefully read their transition letters.

After a U.S. bankruptcy filing for Chapter 11 creditor protection, the company is engaged in a restructuring process estimated to last anywhere from six months to over a year. Since it admitted to falsifying its financial results from 2001 and the first quarter of 2002 in June, the company has filed for Chapter 11 protection, been delisted from the Nasdaq market, and seen its former chief financial officer and controller indicted on securities fraud charges.

WorldCom's bankruptcy and restructuring efforts have shifted its focus away from the wireless business, which is expected to save the company US$700 million a year, Kumagai said. It will concentrate on voice, data and Internet services for businesses in hopes of righting its ship, he said.

When it announced its plans to exit the wireless resale business, WorldCom, based in Clinton, Mississippi, had nearly 2 million wireless customers, Kumagai said.

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