WorldCom Inc, the fourth largest US phone company, has scored a first with its German arm signing the first interconnect agreement with incumbent German telecom monopoly carrier Deutsche Telekom AG. The deal, according to the Jackson, Mississippi-based operator, is fully symmetrical and reciprocal between the two companies, and gives WorldCom access to DT’s national network. The agreement is set to start January 1, 1998 – the first day of DT’s new position as a competitor in an open German telecoms market. WorldCom says the agreement is a key step in making WorldCom a national public telecommunications operator in Germany – a market with 80m customers. WorldCom says it is looking for similar agreements across Europe. According to Joe Van Gorp, vice president of legal and regulatory affairs at WorldCom Inc, negotiations are continuing with France Telecom, Koninklijke PTT Nederland NV and Belgacom NV. We hope to have these signed before January 1 1998 so that the network can be ready for deregulation. WorldCom already has similar agreements in place in the UK and Sweden. The agreement with DT, including the necessary request to authorize the interconnect tariff, has been presented to German regulators for ratification. If approved, the details of the agreement will be made public. WorldCom expects rivals to strike similar agreements with DT. The agreement is another step in WorldCom’s European ambitions: in March itset out its plans to interconnect its Metropolitan Area Network fibre rings around Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. According to the company, the agreement with Deutsche Telekom runs in concert with this providing connection to its own network via Deutsche Telekom’s local loop.