AT&T signs $US80m network deal with 3Com

AT&T has won an $US80 million contract from 3Com to build a converged data, voice and video network for the company.

As part of the three-year deal, AT&T will convert 3Com's backbone network from point-to-point service to asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) technology so that the one network is able to transport voice, video and data, AT&T said.

The company will offer its OneNet Inbound and Outbound service, frame-relay and ATM services for 3Com offices in the US, AT&T said. ATM services will connect 10 3Com locations in the US, the UK and Asia, as well as data, voice and video traffic from Santa Clara, California, Boston and Chicago, AT&T said.

For 3Com's international offices, AT&T will use 3Com's existing services, such as frame relay and ATM, AT&T said. AT&T's international ATM service will connect 3Com's major international locations to its hub offices in the US, AT&T said.

The agreement between 3Com and AT&T benefits both companies financially, said Virginia Brooks, an analyst at Aberdeen Group in Boston. 3Com saves money by bypassing carriers, she pointed out. And it "looks good for AT&T. It's a customer-win for AT&T, (which) can say a high-tech company is using its services on a big scale," Brooks added.

The deal also offers an opportunity for AT&T to re-establish itself after some rocky financial times, she said. The company wants to be the major global long-distance carrier and with the 3Com agreement, "AT&T can say it knows what it's doing," Brooks said.

However, Brooks questioned 3Com's decision: "Don't they feel confident enough to build their own network?"

Steven Plavny, a 3Com spokesman, said Brooks' question was a non-issue because 3Com doesn't manufacture carrier class switches for ATM or frame-relay backbone networks.

The company looked for the carrier that could offer the best in ATM, frame relay and voice service over a converged network, Plavny added, and AT&T offered the best price, service and reach.

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