WorldCom has split its long-distance business into tortoise-and-hare units.

WorldCom has split its long-distance business into tortoise-and-hare units. When the company created separate WorldCom and MCI tracking stocks last fall, MCI got the more stable residential arena, while WorldCom took the booming business side.

Both residential and business long-distance callers use the companys state-of-the-art, wholly owned networks with facilities throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. "We go it alone, which is more expensive, but because we have end-to-end control . . . its a more positive experience for customers," says Barry Zipp, WorldCom senior director for enhanced voice services.

Most of the action is in the business arena, where WorldCom has experienced steady and solid growth, buoyed in part by a Federal Technology Service contract through which it supplies voice, data and Internet services to more than 60 government agencies, including the Social Security Administration and Department of Defense.

Growth has been especially strong in global accounts and call centers. Zipp says multinationals like that they can bundle long-distance purchases with other WorldCom services. They also can get sales or technical help from employees in more than 65 countries. The growth in call centers is fueled by customers moving beyond just toll-free calling to buying e-mail, instant messaging and Internet chat services. "The whole concept of a call center is changing to a multimedia center," he says.

While promoting data and Internet services, CEO Bernard J. Ebbers isnt ignoring next-generation voice services such as Internet Protocol communications. The companys voice-over-IP strategy has been to deploy intelligence in its network, and put applications and routing capabilities at the networks edge.

Data hasnt pushed voice out of the picture. "Talking is not going away," Zipp says. "Voice is more important than ever."