MCI DIALS INTO HOME-SHOPPING ARENA

Byline:

ATLANTA--MCI Telecommunications Corp. said it will go live with a PC-based interactive home-shopping service in "mid-to-late January."
Company officials said the service offers retailers an inexpensive alternative to actual stores and direct-mail catalogs, but would not release names of retailers and catalog houses who will be using "Marketplace MCI."
In order to access the service, users need not be MCI telephone customers. However, access to the Internet is required. Users also must purchase a software package costing $49.95 to utilize the service. The fee is waived for "Network MCI Business" customers. The software was developed by Netscape Communications, formerly Mosaic Communications.
A monthly fee of $19.95 secures users seven hours of dial-up access or three hours of 800-number access. Additional usage will be charges at the rate of $3 per hour for local dial-up service and $7 per hour for 800-number service.
Retailers who choose to use the service will handle order processing and fulfillment themselves. MCI, however, will help retailers set up "electronic storefronts" where consumers can browse their goods from their desktops.
"Cybershoppers" will be able to pay for their purchases instantly through secured, on-line credit-card purchases," the company said.
Retail analysts say services similar to the MCI offering will primarily appeal to catalog retailers.

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