Nortel Nabs $60 Million Network Contract

Nortel Networks has received a $60-million contract from FIBERWORKS, Inc. allowing the Atlanta-based carrier to enter the metropolitan Local Area Network (LAN) arena.

The three-year contract is part of FIBERWORKS’s plan to build fiber optic “last mile” metropolitan LANs in 15 cities throughout the Southeast. Atlanta has been singled out as the initial city in the fiber-ring rollout. Service is expected to start by the end of the year. Also scheduled for construction are networks in Dallas, Miami, New Orleans and Nashville.

When completed, the Atlanta ring will comprise a 104-mile network through the city’s central business district, with an initial bandwidth capacity of 80 Gbps. No projects are in the works after the 15-city deployment. The company plans to consolidate its resources, then make a decision after the
deployment is complete.

Scott Burkholder, FIBERWORKS president and chief executive officer, said the buildout fulfills the growing business demand.

“For the first time, businesses will have direct, fiber-based access to the service provider of their choice and will enjoy optical networking and true broadband services from desktop to desktop at previously unattainable speeds,” Burkholder said. “Nortel Networks OPTera Metro solutions will enable our new metro access networks to deliver the necessary speed and reliability for data transport in today’s new era of communications.”

Burkholder said Nortel’s OPTera program was also selected because it’s scalable to expanded deployments.

“Right now we have 180 agreements in Atlanta to use our network,” Burkholder said. “If we stick to our plan with 1,100 businesses using the network we still have plenty of room on the 80 gigabit network. Nortel’s OPTera is fairly scalable and they are already coming out with a new product line that would give our network up to 320 gigabits per second capacity, which is just an outrageous amount of bandwidth.”

Nortel is capitalizing on a trend that started late last year and is quickly gaining steam, as more and more businesses venture to the Internet for their operations. That trend is the shift in emphasis from
long-distance fiber deployments to the metro LANs popping up around the country.

So far, companies like Nortel , Global Crossing, Ltd. , and Williams Communications Group, Inc. , have been concentrating fiber ring attention on the big cities like New York and Chicago, but increased demand is expanding focus nationwide.

Vivian Hudson, Nortel optical networks vice president, said its OPTera network solution plan was born to accommodate that demand.

“What we’ve found is in the past, the emphasis has been on the long-haul fiber deployment,” Hudson said. “Now there is a desire by businesses to have fiber sent to their offices. And they’re asking for OC-3 level support; the big trend is toward using the ubiquitous gigabit ethernet, T-1 is becoming a relatively low-speed option.”

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