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CWO Hosts ASP Push After Microsoft, Compaq Deal

Telecommunications carrier Cable & Wireless Optus has announced a move into the Australian application service provider (ASP) market after its parent company struck a global alliance with two of the world's largest computing firms.

Cable & Wireless plc will include Microsoft in the agreement signed last November with Compaq, enabling the telco to offer enterprise-wide IT and ASP services to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a single package.

Compaq will provide C&W Optus with a range of Internet access devices, while the network deploys Microsoft Office and Outlook as a hosted applications to the SME market, effectively allowing Australian businesses to 'rent' popular software programs instead buying their own.

"Over the next four years we expect that over a quarter of Australian business will take advantage of ASPs as they discover the savings and flexibility in 'renting' software based solutions," said C&W Optus' director of e-solutions, David Stokes-McKeon.

C&W Optus said through its parent company, the deal will allow the telco to seed new applications into the Australian market while offering solutions that have a global reach to a range of markets.

"Our aim is to enable businesses in Australia and trading communities around the world to build their e-business, that's why partnerships with strong local and global players such as Compaq and Microsoft are vital," said Stokes-McKeon. "We are giving Australian businesses a one-stop shop for their e-business needs while delivering substantial cost savings."

Cable & Wireless said the first wire-line services will be available this year for businesses in the US, UK and Australia, and will be rolled out into the rest of Europe and the Asia Pacific over the following year. Application services will ultimately be available over a variety of wireless networks as well as desktop PCs and mobile phones.

Charges for these services will be on a monthly basis and will include software upgrades, security, training, customer support and data storage and backup. C&W Optus will also work with the two computing firms to deliver application infrastructure to other ASPs, ISPs and software companies and in the future incorporate the Commerce One procurement applications to the package.

Meanwhile, C&W Optus has announced a large increase in the capacity of its fiber optic network.

Using Dense Wavelength Division Multiplex (DWDM) technology, the company said capacity will increase by up to 40 times, and provide over 40 wavelength channels at 10 Gbps.

Multi-million dollar contracts are set to be awarded to Nortel Networks and Fujitsu, who will provide and expand the DWDM technology and systems which increase the capacity of existing optic fibers by using multiple lasers and light signals transmitted simultaneously over a single optical fiber.

"It [DWDM] allows for a higher data rate at a lower cost," said C&W Optus' chief technical officer Bill Hope. "This will enable us to significantly increase the capacity and efficiency of our existing fiber network to cater for the very strong demand in data communications," he said.