In "Big Doings in the 'Pipeline' Biz" [op-ed, Oct. 10], David Ignatius suggests that the MCI WorldCom-Sprint merger might not benefit consumers.

But the Bell operating companies have consolidated their local operations through a series of mergers and are moving toward becoming full-service providers of voice, wireless and data services. AT&T, meanwhile, will dominate the provision of broadband services over cable while operating its own nationwide wireless network. MCI WorldCom's merger with Sprint would offer consumers a strong and effective alternative--especially in local markets, where neither company can compete as effectively alone against entrenched monopolies.

The merged MCI WorldCom-Sprint also will be in a strong position to extend the reach of high-speed Internet access services, both over the existing copper network and through its own nationwide "wireless cable" assets. Without the new WorldCom as a third provider, consumers and independent Internet service providers again could find themselves at the mercy of closed systems--cable or copper--operated by monopolies.

Suggestions that the MCI WorldCom-Sprint merger could lead to undue concentration in the long-distance industry do not take account of the trend toward global, full-service carriers. Again, consumers will benefit from having a third choice that can offer the full gamut of telecom services, not just long distance.

We are confident that any analysis by FCC and Justice Department regulators will demonstrate why this merger is pro-competitive in all markets.

JOHN SIDGMORE

Vice Chairman

MCI WorldCom Inc.

Fairfax