MCI Communications Corp. announced plans yesterday to build a $150 million computer data center in Perryman to handle order and billing processing for the nation's second-largest long-distance company.
The data center, about 25 miles northeast of Baltimore in Harford County, will be on the same 36-acre site where MCI has had a major switching center since 1983.
MCI uses the existing 48,000-square-foot center to sort and route about 2.3 million long-distance calls a day. It has 82 employees.
Richard T. Liebhaber, an MCI executive vice president, said the company spent a year looking at a dozen cities in the Northeast before deciding on Perryman.
Although factors such as taxes and housing prices were important, MCI's switching center in Perryman was a "major factor" in the company's decision to expand in Maryland, Mr. Liebhaber said. The Perryman site "was earmarked for expansion in the future," Mr. Liebhaber said. "So it worked out well."
Construction on the 60,000-square-foot data center, which will be MCI's second-largest, is scheduled to begin in May and be completed by 1993.
Although the construction of the center will generate a significant number of short-term construction jobs, it will not translate into many permanent jobs for Marylanders.
Mr. Liebhaber said the highly automated center will require few technicians, probably six to 10 initially. Employment is expected to peak at about 40, he said.
The new center will use new technology to process revenues, orders and billing for MCI customers in 11 states. For example, the center's systems will automatically alert technicians when a problem in MCI's network is detected. Those systems will be able to reroute long-distance traffic automatically to avoid breakdowns.
A large part of the center's $150 million cost will go for equipment.