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BellSouth Soups Up Services

BellSouth has deployed Cisco's 7600 router series to boost its Ethernet service offerings for its business customers, the companies announced today.

Cisco regularly competes with vendors such as Juniper Networks and Nortel Networks for business from service providers. And while BellSouth considered other vendors, according to Todd Smith, the company's spokesman, it settled on Cisco because of its "strong enterprise market visibility and the ability to meet our requirements."

Cisco's 7600 router series handles such high-bandwidth tasks as connecting data and storage systems; transferring medical and technical images and video; and Voice over Internet Protocol .

These services will be available initially in Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Jacksonville and Raleigh, with additional cities being added throughout the year, Smith told internetnews.com. Specifics of the agreement, such as the value of the contract and other bidders, were not disclosed.

The products come with Cisco's Supervisor Engine 720 modules, which boast switching capacities of 720 Gigabits per second (Gbps) and allow BellSouth to offer service level agreements (SLAs) covering availability, latency and time-to-repair.

BellSouth and other telecom carriers are looking to these offerings for growth as wireless phone service eats into their traditional landline business.

Cisco also has relationships with AT&T , SBC Communications and Sprint , all of which revolve around managed network services. The deals with service providers will differ in their geographic areas and business models, as well as in the types of services offered.

A Cisco spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

This is not the first time Cisco and BellSouth have done business. Last year, the companies signed a four-year deal to offer voice and data services in the Southeast.

That agreement included placing Cisco Internet Protocol and optical gear in BellSouth's network, thus allowing the carrier to offer virtual private networks, Metro Ethernet and enhanced SONET services.

The companies also agreed to jointly offer IP telephony, WLANs , LAN/WAN and local and long-distance network transport, equipment, professional services and on-site maintenance and monitoring.