Janet jumps from KPNQwest pan into WorldCom fire

The body responsible for the UK's academic network found that it had jumped from one troubled telecoms provider to another as...

The body responsible for the UK's academic network found that it had jumped from one troubled telecoms provider to another as WorldCom followed hot on the heels of the recent KPNQwest collapse.

The UK Education and Research Networking Association (Ukerna), which runs the Joint Academic Network for the UK's higher education institutions and administers the .ac.uk and .gov.uk domains, was keeping a watching brief after switching from the sinking KPNQwest ship to WorldCom recently.

WorldCom's future is in grave doubt after a $3.8bn (£2.6bn) accounting scandal came to light last week.

Ukerna was forced to quit its contract with bankrupt KPNQwest at the end of May when the company's network was under threat.

It switched provider for its UK backbone from KPNQwest to WorldCom that day in 4.5 hours.

Tim Kidd, production services director of Ukerna, said, "The service is running fine at the moment but we are keeping a close eye on what happens. We have contingency plans in place and are having a number of discussions regarding our options.

On exit clauses in Ukerna's contract with WorldCom, Kidd said, "We have a good contract which enables us to make the right decisions at the right time."

He said the organisation had a policy of having a portfolio of network suppliers because of the volatile state of the telecoms markets.

Maureen Coulter, an analyst with Gartner, said, "This kind of thing is very difficult to avoid. The telecoms market is at a stage where anybody is vulnerable. It is almost impossible to pick the perfect telecoms partner and all you can do is apply due diligence, while hoping they're telling the truth. If in doubt go for multiple suppliers. Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

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