AT&T sprints to Finish Line

Plus: Verizon to offer residential VoIP; Verizon to buy MPLS routers for enterprise services.

AT&T inked a multi-million dollar deal with athletic footwear retailer The Finish Line last week. The three-year contract includes local and long-distance voice, frame relay and Internet access services across the country. AT&T is connecting The Finish Line's headquarters in Indianapolis with 500 retail stores across the country.

The Finish Line was using voice services from MCI and other regional carriers, but now is consolidating all of its telecom service needs into one contract with AT&T.

In the first phase of a two-phase rollout, Verizon will turn up a "non-QoS" voice-over-IP service for consumer DSL customers in the second quarter of 2004, the company says. The second phase will be a managed service offering over DSL and T-1 access lines for residences and businesses in the fourth quarter of 2004. Analysts say Verizon's VoIP services are intended to defend its turf against cable companies offering voice and are an alternative effort to retain customers vs. primary access lines.

Some regional Bell operating companies, such as SBC, fear that VoIP would present a threat to their ability to retain access line revenue by offering consumers yet another technology alternative to the traditional plain old telephone service line into their homes.

Verizon plans to purchase an additional 220 Multi-protocol Label Switching-enabled routers as part of a nationwide network buildout to crack the large enterprise market. Verizon already deploys 80 such routers in its network, which provisions IP VPN services to large companies under the carrier's Enterprise Advance initiative. Cisco, Juniper and Redback Networks supply routers to Verizon.

The RBOC has landed 900 contracts with more than 550 of its largest customers since unveiling Enterprise Advance a year ago, the company says.

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