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BellSouth Pursues Southeast Dot-Com Companies

BellSouth Corp. Tuesday launched its so-called "e-Platform" initiative targeting application service providers.

As part of its "nEtwork Partner Program" to support its new business centers based in Atlanta and Miami, BellSouth's designed a network that allows clients to dramatically respond to demands for bandwidth and ramp-up their Web distribution capabilities.

Donna Lee, BellSouth Customer Markets president of marketing, said the network partner program is an expansion of its strategic alliance scheme developed in 1985.

"By blending BellSouth's technologically advanced network and skilled resources with that of our best-in-class partners, we are able to provide the pinnacle in performance for mission-critical e-business services," Lee said.

Charter members of the program include IT consulting maven Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Internet service provider iXL. As select business partners, the firms exchange sales leads and work with BellSouth to jointly pursue marketing opportunities.

Rick Matthews, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young vice president said BellSouth's channel program enables the ASP enthusiast to broaden its market coverage, increase revenues and enhance market credibility.

"The strength of BellSouth's network and its e-Platform initiative provides a powerful complement to Cap Gemini Ernst & Young's services that will allow us both to respond to our customers' demands," Matthews said.

Bert Ellis, iXL chief executive officer said BellSouth's initiative is all about the future of networking that allows the full-service ISP to deliver results today.

Over the next 6 months, BellSouth intends to aggressively court systems integrators, ASPs, ISPs, and other dot-com start-ups to join its distribution partnership program.

BellSouth's e-Platform provide provides a variety of e-business services, including dedicated and custom hosting solutions, managed storage and security, content distribution, caching, disaster recovery and back office support for its ASP portfolio.

In order to construct the fiber-based network at the heart of BellSouth's e-Platform program, the telecom firm teamed up with Qwest Communications International and Sun Microsystems.

As a part of the alliance, Qwest reserved up to 25,000 square feet of floor space in both BellSouth facilities.

Sun struck a multi-year deal worth $450 million with BellSouth to provide the UNIX-based hardware, software and professional services powering the two new data centers. For its part, BellSouth becomes a Sun recommended Web hosting and network service in the Southeast.

Ed Zander, Sun president and chief operating officer, said years ago the firm started telling the world that "The Network is the Computer," and a lot of people thought Sun was crazy. But, he added, BellSouth understood what Sun was talking about.

"BellSouth has been providing network-based services, in the form of dial tone, for years. Now the market has matured to the point where businesses are ready for applications and services to be delivered by a service provider rather than managed and maintained in-house," Zander said.

"We believe BellSouth is in a great position to become one of the leading service providers by leveraging its network expertise and its partners' capabilities," Zander added.

Like Sun's Zander, BellSouth contends it will be a major player in the exploding business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets, which analysts estimate to be worth $2.7 in the U.S. by 2004. Its e-Platform initiative is designed to lock-up the Southeast market segment valued at more than $4-6 billion over the same period.

BellSouth had to bury about



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