MCI International, a unit of MCI Communications Corp., has purchased a satellite earth station complex in Andover, Maine, that has been used by a consortium of long distance companies for transmitting international telephone calls since the 1960s. The price of the transaction, which was announced last week, was not disclosed.

MCI plans to use the complex to provide voice, video and data service to such areas as Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"Our strategic interest is to provide MCI-owned and -operated facilities to meet our customers' needs," Seth Blumenfield, president of MCI International, said in a statement.

The purchase will reduce MCI's reliance on facilities leased from American Telephone & Telegraph Co. for international transmission. MCI already owns an earth station in Yacoult, Wash.

MCI and AT&T now will be the only two companies with their own earth stations for international service, and others will have to lease the service from them, according to Robert Ohneiser, senior manager of strategic marketing for MCI.

The Andover complex is something of a landmark in the history of satellite communications. It is on the site of the first earth station, which AT&T put up in the early 1960s to beam signals off satellites to improve international telephone service.

"Andover, Maine, in terms of frequency interference, is the quietest place on the face of the earth, and that's why it was the first place for an earth station complex," Ohneiser said.

In the mid-1960s, Communications Satellite Corp. became 50 percent owner and sole operator of the complex, with AT&T, RCA Global Communications and Western Union International -- now a division of MCI -- also part owners.

A federal move to deregulate earth station ownership and dissolve the consortium that owned the complex by the end of this year led to MCI's purchase.

Comsat spokesman Richard McGraw said last week that Comsat was sorry to be getting out of the earth station business.

"It's a profitable business and tied to satellites, and we would like to have stayed in that business. But it wasn't an option at the time," he said. "If the carriers went and built {their own earth stations,} we could have been left holding empty white elephants."