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RealTime IT News

Sprint Bills New Network as "Revolutionary"

Sprint Communications Company today unveiled a new telecommunications network that it said will give residential and corporate customers unlimited bandwidth through just one existing telephone line that can transmit voice, video, and data calls all at the same time.

Scheduled to be rolled out later this year, the network, code named "Project FastBreak," will employ several technologies under the umbrella name of Integrated On-Demand Network or ION.

Sprint said the ION project has been under development for the past 5 years at a cost of approximately $2 billion.

The telco said the network is designed to enable users to make calls as well as receive multiple incoming phone calls, receive faxes, and operate applications. In addition, Internet users will be able download Web pages 100 times faster than standard modem delivery.

Sprint said ION is advanced enough to make residential multiple phone lines obsolete, and corporations will be able to use a single network instead of multi-networks, to bundle voice, video and data traffic.

Business telecommunications costs will be lowered because ION provides local and wide area network expansion while dynamically allocating bandwidth--companies pay for what is used rather than having to buy high-bandwidth capacity, according to Sprint.

ION will be introduced to large business clients later this year, with general availability to businesses scheduled for mid 1999, and residential customers in late 1999.

Due to the network's cell-based technology, usage costs of voice calls are expected to decline by as much as 70%, Sprint said. "We will be offering every Sprint customer their own multi-billion dollar, unlimited bandwidth network in the same monthly price range that many customers spend today for communications services," said William T. Esrey, Sprint's chairman and chief executive officer.

ION will be transmitted through Sprint's long distance metropolitan broadband networks (BMAN), which currently cover 36 U.S. markets and will climb to 60 in 1999. Sprint said the BMAN system will enable ION to reach close to 70% of large businesses without the need to employ Digital Subscriber Line (DSL).

Smaller business locations, as well as home office users and consumers that do not have BMAN access, will be ION-supported via other broadband access services, including DSL, Sprint said.

The company also announced today it entered into partnerships with Cisco, Bellcore, and RadioShack to assist with the deployment and distribution of ION.

Cisco will provide networking technology, including customer premise equipment, while Bellcore will provide the central software framework. Tandy Corp.'s Radioshack, currently a Sprint retailer, will assist with marketing and distribution of ION.

Sprint said Coastal States Management, Ernst & Young LLP, Hallmark, Silicon Graphics, Sysco Foods, and Tandy are among the first customers scheduled to deploy ION technologies in the coming months.