AT&T speeds up global network expansion work

Telecoms giant AT&T is stepping up efforts to broaden the deployment of its global telecommunications and data services network.

Telecoms giant AT&T is stepping up efforts to broaden the deployment of its global telecommunications and data services network.

AT&T said last week it will accelerate its rollout schedule by adding 20 more network nodes in Europe, Asia and Latin America this year. This is in addition to the 102 points already scheduled to go online by the end of the year as part of a planned $300m (£192m) investment in the network.

Joyce Van Duzer, an AT&T spokeswoman, said the 20 additional service areas were originally expected to be added during the next several years but are being put in place now because of increasing demand from multinational corporate users.

Asked if the increased pace of expansion is part of an attempt to woo users away from rival WorldCom, Van Duzer said there is no direct link to the financial problems WorldCom is experiencing but it's possible that the service-area increases being sought by AT&T's customers are partly driven by worries about what's happening in the telecommunications market.

Ken McGee, an analyst at Gartner, said the accelerated expansion is consistent with the plans that AT&T laid out last August, when it mapped its global network strategy. "This is meeting customer demand," he said. "It's not capitalising on the problems at WorldCom."

Jim Slasby, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said the timing could just be a coincidence. AT&T has planned all along to increase the scale of its global network at a steady rate to make the technology more attractive to multinational companies, he said.

"But it certainly doesn't hurt that there are a lot of WorldCom customers who are wondering what they'll do if WorldCom's money woes continue," Slasby said.

AT&T last week reported a $12.7bn (£8.1bn) second-quarter loss that was fuelled by $13.1bn (£8.4bn) worth of charges. But during a conference call about the results, AT&T President David Dorman said that the company has already won customers from WorldCom. "We ought to be the biggest beneficiary of [WorldCom's bankruptcy filing]," he said.

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