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@Home Seals Deal With AT&T To Create Broadband Backbone

Cable Internet provider @Home Network has signed a long-term deal with AT&T Corp. to create a nationwide broadband Internet backbone.

The network, which was announced late Tuesday, will use AT&T's Dense Wave Division Multiplexing backbone, scheduled to be deployed in mid-1999. @Home said the backbone will give it a 100-fold increase in network capacity and will enable it to serve up to 5 million broadband users.

@Home said the additional capacity will enhance its multimedia programming by allowing more content providers to connect directly to its network and offer streaming video and audio. In addition, @Home said the network will allow it to more efficiently interconnect and exchange traffic with other large carriers.

AT&T will initially provide @Home with 2 OC-48 -- or 2.5 gigabits a second -- channels that will span a 15,000-mile Dense Wave Division Multiplexing optical network. The agreement also allows @Home to expand capacity by bringing on additional routes using DWDM technology. @Home will also co-locate equipment across AT&T's points of presence and in other facilities that will interconnect @Home's architecture to other Internet backbones.

Milo Medin, @Home's founder and chief technology officer, said the architecture would be deployed across the entire backbone using AT&T's fiber optic network.

"In preparation for continued growth and new advanced services, we are moving ahead with the next phase of the @Home backbone. By connecting IP routers and switches directly to the DWDM optical infrastructure, we can achieve superior performance with much lower costs than traditional architectures...," he said.

The news of a new backbone comes after many @Home network users began complaining of sluggish connections. The cable ISP also recently began limiting downloads of broadcast-quality video across its network to cut down on congestion. (inserting the phrase broadcast-quality).

This latest announcement comes a month after @Home acquired set-top box and interactive television company Full Force Systems in a deal that could boost its subscriber base by up to 15 million homes and businesses.