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MCI and British Telecommunications will announce Monday that they are close to completing the world's largest Internet network.

The multimillion-dollar network, scheduled to go live later this year, will give MCI and BT an appreciable lead in the battle for Internet traffic, marking the first significant move by telecommunications operators to take control of the Internet, the world's largest computer system."BT and MCI are making a smash-and-grab raid on the Internet," an industry source commented Sunday.

The new network will not compete with the existing Internet but will interconnect with it, offering greatly increased capacity and professional network management.

It will be operated and managed by Concert, the "global supercarrier" established two years ago by MCI and BT to compete for the lucrative international business of large multinational customers.

The two companies are expected to confirm Monday that Concert is running ahead of its business plan and will break even at the operational level in the year 1997-98.

They also will announce a new distributor of Concert services in the Asia Pacific region, thought to be NTT of Japan, the world's largest telecommunications operator. BT has long sought a strategic alliance with NTT to strengthen its position in Asia.

The new Internet network will involve the deployment of at least 12 large telecommunications switches in the U.S., Europe and the Asia Pacific region linked by high-capacity fiber-optic cabling. It will increase the capacity of the Internet by some 30 percent, offering customers a substantially faster and more efficient service.

Internet traffic continues to grow dramatically and is already stretching the capacity and the technology of the original Internet. Customers are often unable to connect to the Internet because of congestion. Traffic between two European cities is commonly routed via the US because of lack of capacity in Europe. The new MCI/BT network will provide high-capacity links between switches or "superhubs" in big European and other cities.

Recent estimates suggest there could be 500 million Internet customers by 2000, compared with 60 million today. Some observers believe Internet traffic could exceed voice traffic by the end of the decade.

MCI and BT plan to market the new network as a premium service, offering the quality and reliability of conventional telephone services.

The Internet is essentially a communications system for computers, a network of computer networks all of which obey the same rules and therefore talk the same language.

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)