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AT&T Wrests Contract From Qwest

AT&T says it wrested a 2-year, $1.7 million contract to provide voice and data networking services to Erickson Retirement Communities away from Qwest Communications .

Erickson will use AT&T's Internet protocol virtual private network and managed Internet services to handle a database of its 10,000 residents. The records include dietary plans, doctor appointments and medical information.

It will also supply always-on Internet connectivity with guaranteed bandwidth for Erickson's 12 retirement communities in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as its corporate headquarters in Cantonsville, Md. The connectivity is currently only for Erickson employees, not residents.

Finally, the Bedminster, N.J., carrier will also provide local phone service to Erickson. The deal could be expanded, AT&T spokeswmoman Lydia Rodriguez told interentnews.com.

"(The companies) are in discussions regarding other managed Internet opportunities and as Erickson grows, AT&T will add the new sites to the core network," Rodriguez said.

A spokesperson for Denver-based Qwest was not immediately available for comment on the Erickson contract.

For AT&T, network services deal represent reliable revenue, with the opportunity to re-sign customers to expanded deals in the future.

For example, the Erickson deal comes a day after AT&T announced a 3-year, $2 million networking contract extension with the Associated Press. AT&T will use its IP virtual provide network to connect the news organization's 242 bureaus worldwide.

AT&T already provides AP's U.S. data services as well as local and long-distance. The contract also allows for regional help desks in each time zone offering in-language services and a single bill in a single currency.