Sprint moseys into Melbourne with Uecomm deal

Global telecommunications giant Sprint has continued its snail's pace assault on the Australian market, signing a deal with broadband carrier Uecomm to supply international data transport services for the Melbourne marketplace. It is Sprint's first customer in Victoria but the two companies already have a similar business arrangement in Sydney.

"Uecomm had been struggling, but turned the ship around by reinventing itself from being a small network provider to offering value-added services which has seen it win impressive government and corporate contracts," said David Eagle, managing director of Sprint A/NZ.

"Our deal is on a pay-per-use basis, which provides flexibility and means Uecomm is not stuck with a huge fixed cost.

"Melbourne has long been home to some of Australia's leading multinational corporations and it is a market that Sprint has been exploring for some time. IP is where all our Australian focus is," he added.

Uecomm CEO Peter McGrath said working with Sprint would enhance high-speed broadband and data Internet services for his growing list of customers.

In its current form, Sprint has been in Australia since establishing an IP node in Sydney in February 2001 but it has had a presence here on-and-off for the past decade, mostly at carrier level.

Eagle estimated a quarter of all global e-mail traffic is carried by Sprint and said its move into the Australian market is part of a plan to roll out its US Internet backbone on a global scale.

As well as its deal with Uecomm, Eagle said Sprint customers include Telstra, Optus and most of the large ISPs operating in Australia. It is now turning its attentions to large multinationals such as banking corporations and pharmaceutical companies to grow its presence here and will also look to bring heavyweight US partners like Bank of America and FedEx into the local market.

"Our target market knows who we are but many existing US customers are not aware of the extent of what we can do outside the States. We are working hard to change that," said Eagle.

Sprint is currently in discussions with a number of systems integrators but Eagle was not prepared to go into significant detail at this stage. "WorldCom and others are in difficulty so a number of systems integrators are looking for a robust international carrier partner," he said.

"Lots of opportunities are coming our way. We have around 30 customers in Australia at the moment, some of which are very large, and we will continue to build on the depth of these relationships."

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