MCI Worldcom takes over fiber-optic cable

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2000

ANCHORAGE - MCI WorldCom is trying to overhaul Anchorage-based Kanas Telecom, the company that owns the troubled fiber-optic cable along the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

MCI has acquired or is about to acquire 80 percent of Kanas, a partnership made up of three Alaska Native corporations and a Nebraska-based communications company, according to an order filed with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

MCI has asked Anchorage-based phone company General Communication Inc. to temporarily run the $100 million fiber-optic cable, said Curtiss Clifton of GCI. MCI owns 20 percent of GCI, which could become the cable's long-term operator, he said.

The fiber-optic cable was built in the late 1990s, but ran into problems over the past year and occasionally failed.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which runs the oil pipeline, is Kansas' main customer. But Alyeska severed its $225 million contract with the company last month, claiming the cable was unreliable and couldn't be trusted to operate critical valves on the pipeline.

Alyeska hasn't decided if it will reinstate its contract with Kanas under new management, spokeswoman Jennifer Ruys said.

The fiber-optic cable also is connected to Fairbanks and is used by GCI, Arco Alaska, MACtel, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and others for voice and data calls, state regulators said.



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