MCI has formally emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will start offering new products and services within the next few weeks and months aimed at business.

MCI, formerly WorldCom, filed for bankruptcy in July 2002, with debts of $32.8 billion, but was able to continue operating under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. Today, that was lifted and MCI head Michael Capellas exclaimed it a "day of celebration", explaining that the company can now focus on selling its products and services.

MCI is hoping to leap on new trends in the telecommunications industry, it said - something backed up by its new products for remote workers announced earlier this month, as well as an insurance plan against DoS attacks.

The company has retained all of its largest corporate customers and has signed new accounts, it claimed. With a large infrastructure in place, it is in a good position to package traditional telephony with IP-based services, Capellas indicated. "You don't just enter the enterprise side casually," he said. "We've got years of history. We're certainly ready for it."

MCI will roll out new products and services in the next few weeks and months, and will announce several new partnerships, it said. The company will focus on expanding globally, offering managed services and offering new IP-based telecom products, among other things, Capellas promised.

The company leaves bankruptcy with about $6 billion in cash and about $5.5 billion in debt. The company posted a $145 million net loss in December, compared to a $21 million net loss in November.

The past two years were filled with "unbelievable challenges," Capellas said. He praised MCI's employees for helping the company through the bankruptcy after a group of former employees were found to have altered accounting records to conceal losses and inflate earnings.

"Some people say, 'How did you get here?'" said Capellas, who joined MCI in November 2002. "You see the obstacles, you kick them down one at a time, and when you get done, you go over to the next one. It was sort of a marathon with hurdles."

The end of bankruptcy for MCI means more than a one-day celebration, said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst. "It's got to be like a huge weight was lifted off their shoulders," he said. "After all, it was only two years ago we wondered if they'd survive at all. But this is not the end game for MCI. This is only the end of one chapter: the ugly chapter. Today they start the next chapter with its own sets of challenges and opportunities."