MCI first entered the satellite communications business in 1971 in a joint venture with Lockheed Missiles & Space Corporation. Lockheed sought permission from the FCC to use satellites for communications, and MCI joined Lockheed as an investor. The two companies joined with Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) to form the CML Satellite Corporation.
In 1974, MCI and Lockheed sold their shares in CML under pressing monetary concerns. IBM bought both companies’ shares, brought in other investors, and formed Satellite Business Systems (SBS). SBS continued struggling to produce profits and, by 1984, IBM sought to sell it.
MCI, seeing an opportunity to increase their profile by partnering with IBM and acquiring a satellite business, bought SBS and formed an investment agreement with IBM. This move signaled that MCI was now a major player in telecommunications.