BellSouth Gets A Backbone

BellSouth Corp. announced its plan Monday to host and manage one America’s fastest network access points in southern Florida.

BellSouth is one of the few telecommunications companies
without an Internet backbone of its own for data traffic outside the local area.

When completed, the Internet exchange will make BellSouth and participating
Internet service providers the first to take part in a public NAP
incorporating speeds using OC-192 and dense wavelength division multiplexing.

DWDM technology is touted as the successor of time-division multiplexing,
currently the standard for optical signal transmissions. In a 2.5Gbps
channel, speeds of more than 200 billion bits per second are possible using
the new technology. As one BellSouth official quipped, “you could download
the entire Library of Congress in 126 seconds.”

Dubbed Florida Multimedia Internet eXchange, BellSouth officials claim it
will remain a neutral carrier, with participating ISPs adding their
facilities to the mesh network.

Several leading providers have already pledged their support and addition
to the NAP, including Qwest
, Intermedia Communications
, Latin America-based ISP Diveo and WorldCom, Inc. subsidiary UUNet.

Bill Smith, BellSouth executive vice president of network planning and
chief technology officer, said the Florida MIX supports the next generation
of Internet use for all ISPs and providers who want to take advantage of
the service.

“The Florida MIX will provide a carrier-neutral hub for ISPs to efficiently
handle global bandwidth demands,” Smith said. “Very high-speed fiber links
between our regions are being installed now. We felt it was imperative to
have a high-speed, secure and reliable capability for supporting new
multimedia Internet services.”

Joe Locker, BellSouth Florida president, said in a press conference Monday
this translates to blistering speeds limited only by the laws of physics.

“I never thought I’d be talking about the limitations of the speed of
light, but with the optical switching network that’s exactly the case,”
Locker said. “The existing systems just don’t have what it takes to
deliver next generation services. This is the first step to providing
those services.”

One of the reasons southern Florida was chosen as BellSouth’s optical
network launching pad is its proximity to the lucrative Latin American
Internet markets.

Florida is the gateway to the Americas, Locker said. Every year, Internet
usage south of the American border triples and Florida sees $48 billion
worth of business from Latin America. A combination of the two could
prove lucrative.

One BellSouth official at the press conference said the network addresses
the congestion problems found with increasing frequency on the Internet.

“The Florida MIX will be the fastest public Internet exchange in the United
States,” she said. “It means getting rid of traffic jams. Internet use in
the U.S. is doubling every year. We have to provide access to accommodate
this traffic and its important to have the reliability this network will

The BellSouth-sponsored NAP would be the country’s sixth. The other five
are held by SBC Communications,
, in Chicago and San Francisco, Sprint Corp. in New York,
WorldCom in Washington, D.C., and ICS Network System’s “Big East.” in New York.

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