Level 3 Supports Sony Online Gaming

Hoping to benefit from a growing Internet trend, Level 3 Communications is providing network services for Sony Online Entertainment’s (SOE) “EverQuest” game. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We expect (gaming) to drive increased demand for bandwidth,” said Kevin O’Hara, president and COO of Broomfield, Colo.-based Level 3.

In gaming parlance, EverQuest is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). These games typically take place in a virtual “world” on the Internet and can involve thousands of players who assukme the roles of characters. At peak times, EverQuest has more than 100,000 players participating at once.

In this new pact, Level 3 will provide Packet Ethernet, a data transport service that offers Ethernet, ATM and Frame Relay access into its managed wide area network.

The technology helps companies deploy and manage traffic over an MPLS-based layer 2 network, ensuring capacity. Another selling point is usage-based pricing, which can help reduce overall network costs.

In addition to anticipating more business from EverQuest, the deal also includes support for future releases from SOE, a division of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.

SOE has more than 13 million registered users and hosts a variety of games and player communities spanning numerous genres through its Station site.

Level 3 has good reason to establish a foothold in the field. Recent analysis from Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent) predicts online PC game subscriptions are expected to reach $600.7 million in 2003, and grow to more than $1.5 billion by 2006, where it will generate $773.8 million in online PC games advertising.

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