ANS Communications Inc, the network services arm of America Online Inc currently on its way to WorldCom Inc, has abandoned its plans to expand into business telecommunications, because of uncertainty over its future. ANS was sold off to WorldCom as part of the complex three-way CompuServe acquisition earlier this year. ANS European manager Frazer Hamilton now admits that the company’s plans for expansion have been indefinitely postponed so as not to rock the boat when control of ANS goes to WorldCom. He says he has no idea of the strategic direction ANS will take after the deal has been completed, as WorldCom has not yet made it clear to ANS where it fits into the empire. ANS has been contracted to continue to manage the AOL network for five years as part of the deal. But the services it operates are already largely covered by CompuServe Inc’s Network Services division, also acquired by WorldCom, and by WorldCom’s existing UUNet Technologies Inc division. With WorldCom deeply involved in its $37bn acquisition of MCI Corp, the ramifications of the CompuServe deal have not attracted much attention. ANS Communications Europe, the European arm of the company, which was launched in July to manage internet services for companies in Europe, was due to announce its voice services at the Telecommunications Managers Association Conference in Brighton on Monday, and was ready to bill itself as the first internet service provider to offer voice services. The company, which has been granted a UK telecommunications license, headlined the announcement as a forging of new ground, in making a transition from an ISP to an ISP and phone provider, enabling companies to buy telecoms and Wide Area Network capacity and internet outsourcing from one supplier. But the launch was canceled shortly before the announcement was due. The only future moves that ANS would talk about was a fax over IP service, due in the first quarter 1998, something which UUNet announced in July.
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