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Global Crossing to Link Internet Network to Ireland

Global Crossing Tuesday announced an $80 million agreement with the Irish government to build the Irish Ring, an undersea fiber optic cable system that will link Ireland to the major cities of Europe and America through the telco's network.

"We estimate that Ireland's e-commerce, the contribution of Irish Web-based and data-based businesses, will grow 100 fold by 2002, but only if competitive broadband capacity and international connectivity are in place," said Ireland's Minister for Public Enterprise, Mary O'Rourke.

Under the terms of the agreement, Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Ireland will resell the network's services to Ireland-based telecoms and ISPs, in cooperation with Global Crossing.

"Ireland is moving very fast to take a commanding lead in the global e-commerce economy," said Bob Annunziata, Global Crossing's CEO. "We are very pleased to be asked to build such an important part of the advanced electronic infrastructure needed by Digital Ireland."

"The Irish Ring will dramatically lower communication costs for Ireland and add huge capacity and state-of-the-art connectivity to continue the astonishing growth in the Irish economy."

The underwater cable will link two of Global Crossing's Irish telehouses via two diverse fiber cables, with the Irish government as the system's anchor customer. The system is expected to lead to significantly lower communications costs.

Global Crossing will develop and own the system.

"Ireland must be and will be an attractive location for internationally mobile investment. High-quality, competitive Internet access is vital to that future," said O'Rourke.

Global Crossing is building and operating an end-to-end fiber optic platform for data, voice, video and Internet transmissions. The network will span five continents and address 80 percent of the world's international traffic.

The company Tuesday completed its £550 million ($850 million) acquisition of Cable & Wireless' submarine cable maintenance and installation company, Cable & Wireless Global Marine.