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KPNQwest Plans $305 Million Build Into Southern France, Spain

In another quick move for its pan-European broadband strategy, KPNQwest Monday said it will invest as much as $3O5 million in a network ring to connect seven new cities in France and Spain.

The new 2,500-mile high-capacity fiber optic ring is expected to become operational by the middle of this year. The build will tap into the company's pan-European and North American network.

The Iberian Ring will connect Lyons, Marseilles, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Bilbao, Bordeaux and Toulouse. At Lyons, the ring will tap the network's Southern EuroRing, which includes 39 other European centers. The seven rings connect a combined total of 46 centers. Construction of the routes for the 96-strand hybrid fiber-optic cable is scheduled to be operational by the fall of next year.

"This investment is in line with the construction costs we have experienced throughout the rest of Europe and reflects our confidence in the massive demand for high quality broadband Internet networks linking Europe and the US," said Jack McMaster, KPNQwest's President and chief executive officer.

McMaster added that the company expects to bring in revenue by relying on existing Net assets in the region, including EUnet Spain and the newly acquired EUnet Portugal. KPNQwest (KQIP) bought out the remaining shares of EUnet Portugal earlier this month.

The Iberian EuroRing will also include a spare duct for future upgrades, said Henjo Groenewegen, KPNQwest's chief operating officer.

KPNQwest last month initiated plans to roll out DSL services to 23 of its European business centers, starting with services in Germany. The DSL offerings are also expected to become available by the middle of this year.

The company's ISP services are available in 14 countries in Europe.