After Concert, AT&T Shows It Goes On

With the dream of a worldwide enterprise audience playing to the tune of
AT&T and British Telecom’s Concert in tatters, AT&T
announced Wednesday its plans to integrate their existing European network.

Concert, an ambitious program launched by the two telephone giants in 1998,
fell victim to tepid demand and over-capacity with the end result of annual
losses of $800 million over the course of the venture. AT&T announced in
October 2001
the dissolution of the venture and launched “Plan B” for
global business services.

Dave Dorman, AT&T president, unveiled Plan B to analysts in a press
conference Wednesday morning, a process that includes the formal end to
Concert and the integration and migration of existing European enterprise
into the corporate fold, be it AT&T or BT.

“(Existing Concert contracts) remain in place for customers who bought the
service in multiple locations through commercial agreements that we still
maintain with BT through the three-year transition,” Dorman said. “We
didn’t want to put a gun to the customers head and say, ‘You have to move
over to the AT&T global network next week.’ The customer gets the final
say in whether they want AT&T or BT to manage their account.

AT&T officials said they are pumping $300 million into their former Concert
network to finish integration of their 5,000 employees in Europe into the
AT&T network and to roll out new enterprise-class services throughout the
59 countries they current serve.

By year’s end officials expect to have their managed services portfolio
(MSP) of services available in more than 80 countries throughout the world
using their new package of corporate services. To do that, technicians
revamped their $200 million integrated global enterprise management systems
(iGEM) to incorporate current Concert customers and new worldwide
businesses and expect to spend another $300 million to add 80 nodes
throughout Europe, primarily.

The key, officials say, is making one integrated network platform on a
global stage. Dorman doesn’t expect to build out any more of its
fiber-optic network, which it bought from IBM in 1998, going
forward. “We’re not going to build, we’ll use what we have and buy or
lease what we don’t,” he said.

To do that, AT&T can fall back on investments made in the past with AT&T
Canada, AT&T Latin America, Alestra (a Mexico telecom) and Shanghai
Symphony Telecom.

With their network in place, AT&T plans to spend the next couple years
developing services to get customers on the AT&T roster. After the
money-draining experience learned at Concert, officials realize services
will get customers signed up.

“We’re going to build on the edge (of the network) now,” Dorman said. He
refers to network edge services like virtual private networks and security
applications that are added at AT&T data centers and nodes to bring
value-added services to businesses.

Customers can already get an idea of what the new global AT&T network will
look like for customers in the future with the launch of two global
enterprise VPN services, announced Wednesday with the news about life
post-Concert.

Available to existing AT&T Enterprise VPN Services customers, companies can
opt to either beef up their frame relay wide area network (WAN) with either
multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) or create a new VPN using AT&T’s
network to make an corporate intranet using IPSec technology.

AT&T also beefed up their MSP to bring more businesses into the fold,
though initially it will only be available to customers in New York and New
Jersey.

AT&T Ultravailable Wavelength Service lets smaller companies get the same
level of network availability, security, recovery, management and
monitoring services normally only extended (or cost-effective) to large
corporations. Officials expect the service expand throughout the U.S. in
the next 12 to 18 months, though consumer demand could hasten or slow the
deployment.

Not surprisingly, Gary Hilbert, AT&T vice president of high availability
and security services, expects the programs to be a success.

“In today’s economy, every company needs cost-effective, survivable and
flexible network-centric solutions,” he said. “We address the full
spectrum of a customer’s business continuity needs, from developing
relatively straightforward disaster recovery plans to designing survivable
networks, and
providing complex business continuity solutions — all in a secure
environment.”

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