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Sprint Plans $350-Million Upgrade in Network : Communications: New fiber-optic equipment will assure uninterrupted service and make faster transmission possible, the company says.

March 14, 1994|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Sprint, the nation's third-largest long-distance company, plans to invest $350 million in the next three years to install an advanced form of fiber-optic transmission equipment in its 23,000-mile network.

Sprint said the upgrade would assure its customers uninterrupted service when lines are damaged and give them the ability to send video and data traffic over its network at speeds two times faster--to 2.5 gigabits per second--than is currently possible.

The Kansas City-based company planned to announce the investment today.

"For voice customers, whether they are business or residential, this means they won't get cut off," Tony Alotto, director of technology integration for Sprint's technology planning group, said.

That's because the upgrade will allow a cut to a trunk line to be restored instantly, spokesman Jim Bowman said.

"When a line is cut now there is a system that restores that, but it takes minutes to hours, depending on how severe the cut," Bowman said. "With the equipment we're deploying, we will be able to make it restore itself instantly."

The new technology will rely on an advanced form of a fiber-optics transmission called SONET--short for Synchronous Optical Network. It will be installed in each of Sprint's 338 locations where the long-distance network connects with local telephone companies.

The company described the new technology as an innovation in the electronics that provide the light pulses for fiber-optics--very thin strands of glass, for carrying voice, video or data information.

Alotto said the installation is taking place in three phases and should be completed by mid-1996. The first phase is under way already and the second phase will begin in 1995, he said.

The upgrade will allow consumers to have quicker access, for instance, to remote databases from their desktop computers and will allow much faster transmission of video on demand, when it becomes available, and interactive services, Alotto said.

Among other things, he said, businesses will be able to use the upgraded network for high-speed computing and faster transmission of other services that may crop up on the so-called information superhighway.

"Even a superhighway has to grow in size and capability as new business and multimedia services emerge, and Sprint is already launching the next phase to stay ahead of the curve," said David Dorman, president of Sprint's Business Services Group.

Alcatel Network Systems of Richardson, Texas, and NEC America Inc. of Melville, N.Y., will supply equipment to Sprint.

Sprint said the new technology will also be a part of the 2,500 miles in new routes it will be adding, boosting total network miles to 25,500 miles.

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