RealTime IT News

Sprint Dials Up Deals With Telcos for ION

Sprint today said it signed agreements with four telcos--Southwestern Bell, GTE Corp., BellSouth Corp. and Ameritech--to deploy high-speed, high-bandwidth services for its Integrated On-Demand Network (ION).

The company also announced today that ION will be launched in seven U.S. cities to large businesses in its trial phase. Sprint said the roll out will continue through 1998 and will be available to small- and medium-sized businesses by mid-1999. Consumer availability is slated for late 1999.

Unveiled on June 2, ION is designed to 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. In addition, Internet users will be able download Web pages 100 times faster than standard modem delivery, according to Sprint.

The initial deployment of ION will take place in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver and Kansas City. These cities were chosen, the company said, because they have broadband metropolitan area networks (BMANs) and established business customer bases. BMANs, which are high-bandwidth fiber optic rings covering cities, are needed to transmit ION's advanced capabilities to 70% of the large businesses within the cities.

Sprint reached BMAN access agreements with Southwestern Bell in Dallas, Kansas City and Houston; GTE in Dallas; and Ameritech in Chicago. BMAN agreements for the New York and Denver markets are in the process of completion, and will be announced at a later date. Financial terms were not disclosed.

This brings the total number of Sprint-BMAN agreements to 25 for various markets across the country, with an expected 36 markets covered by the end of the year. Smaller businesses, home office users, and consumers who do not have BMAN access can be ION-connected via other broadband access services, such as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL).

"While today's announcement is an important first step, it illustrates only the beginning of our deployment of Sprint ION," said William T. Esrey, Sprint's chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. "More cities and more features will soon be announced as our roll out builds momentum around the country."

In addition, Sprint said a variety of large corporations are beta testing ION, including Hallmark Cards, Sysco Corp., Coastal States Management, Ernst & Young LLP, Silicon Graphics, and Tandy.