RealTime IT News

Qwest, MSN Forge Broadband Deal

In a move designed to tighten their existing strategic relationship, Qwest Communications International Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN sealed a new long-term contract Monday under which Qwest will provide its global fiber-optic broadband network for MSN Broadband Internet Access.

The agreement makes MSN the first nationwide user of Qwest's new Broadband Access Aggregation Service (BAAS), which allows customers to consolidate Internet traffic from various DSL providers across the U.S. onto Qwest's broadband network. The traffic will be consolidated on Qwest's long-haul backbone.

"This extended relationship will enable us to deliver MSN Broadband nationwide to over 40 million households via Qwest's broadband network," said Ted Kummert, vice president of MSN.

Shaun Gilmore, executive vice president of Global Accounts for Qwest, added, "The bandwidth aggregation service drives additional traffic onto the Qwest broadband network, and enables Microsoft to continue to expand the availability of its popular MSN Broadband Internet Access services.

The two companies formed their strategic partnership in 1998, giving Microsoft access to Web-based hosting solutions for its business customers. The relationship then expanded to allow Microsoft to provide Web hosting, managed software services, virtual private network and streaming media capability.

The two grew even closer in 2001, when the collapse of NorthPoint Communications, which had provided the DSL services MSN sold to customers, put the future of MSN's broadband offerings in doubt. In April 2001, Qwest rode to the rescue with a five-year contract to provide DSL services via MSN. The deal also called for Qwest to promote high-speed services on MSN within its 14-state region, and to dissolve its own Qwest.net broadband offering.