UK telecoms and cable TV company Cable & Wireless Communications Inc is to spend ú400m building a UK backbone data network, called Network 2000, and has entered an agreement where Northern Telecom Ltd acts as integrator and sole equipment supplier. The move comes in response to predictions of data demand growing at 30% per year, driven by increased Internet demand, and CWC’s plans for two-way broadband interactive TV services starting in 1999. This comes two weeks after its rival British Telecommunications Plc announced its plans to spend ú300m to upgrade its data network. CWC chief operating officer Greg Clarke claims that British Telecom had got wind of its plans, and had announced its network upgrade to steal CWC’s thunder. CWC claims to be further into the process because it had preliminary work done by Nortel, which has had the job of integrating some of its older equipment. CWC want to buy from a single source, because of confusion and expense generated by the range of equipment it currently has installed. CWC was formed eighteen months ago by a four-way merger, which brought four different sets of telecoms and cable hardware together. Network 2000 is to be a dense wavelength division multiplexed Synchronous Digital Hierarchy backbone, carrying 16 different channels of light down each fiber, with 2.5 Gigabits per second data rate on each channel, giving a total capacity of 40Gbps per fibber. The network will carry only ATM and IP traffic, and is designed primarily to give CWC extra data capacity. The company is also beginning to develop plans for its cable TV network, which will be used as a high speed local loop connection for its interactive TV services launched midway through 1999.
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