AT&T doubles IP network spending

Pours money into global IP network

AT&T plans to spend US$750 million this year to expand the geographic reach of its IP backbone and bolster its business services portfolio. The funds earmarked for IP network and service enhancements are roughly twice the amount spent in 2006, AT&T officials say.

The carrier's plans for the $750 million include expanding its IP MPLS network in countries such as Vietnam, Pakistan, Morocco and India, says Bill Archer, senior vice president of product management at AT&T.

The investment is "expanding [AT&T's] infrastructure and network assets and augmenting [AT&T's] service portfolio. Under those two domains we're spending considerably more than in 2006...roughly 50% or more," Archer says.

The company talked about its global expansion plans earlier this year, but at that time it did not mention its network investment plans.

AT&T says it will extend its MPLS network to 155 countries while also setting up 13 additional network interconnections to reach some geographic regions in a timely, cost-effective manner. AT&T interconnects with indigenous carriers in Brazil and a handful of Nordic countries to expand the reach of its IP MPLS network. While AT&T prefers to own its network assets, in some areas of the world it is not feasible, Archer says.

AT&T also is expanding its DSL network access to 34 countries and Ethernet network access in 31 countries by year-end.

With its healthy budget the carrier also plans to make several new IP VPN capabilities available globally where some were only available domestically.

The application development investments "are geared toward enhancing performance, flexibility and customer control of application delivery on virtual networks," Archer says.

Customers also can expect AT&T to offer six classes of service on its IP VPN service offerings around the world by year-end, Archer says. Today the carrier offers four classes.

The carrier also will add Internet Data Center (IDC) hosting facilities around the world. AT&T hinted at this domestic and global expansion in early February.

New IDCs coming online this year include centers in the New Jersey/New York region and in Canada. AT&T also plans to expand existing IDCs in California, Virginia, Arizona and the United Kingdom. By year-end the carrier says it will have 38 hosting data centers. These will include four from its purchases of USinternetworking and BellSouth.

AT&T's investment tops Sprint's planned spending on its "long-distance networks," which primarily include its IP and MPLS networks, a company spokesman says. Sprint says it plans to spend $600 million in 2007, which is $200 million less than it spent in 2006 on the same networks.

Verizon at press time, would not provide a breakdown of its planned investment for 2007. The service provider says it is spending $10.7 billion to $10.9 billion on wireline services worldwide in 2007. That investment essentially includes all services that are not wireless.

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