Sprint says it is rolling out metropolitan-area networks in 13 more markets, a move that is expected to lead to cost savings for the carrier and perhaps customers.Sprint has MANs deployed in 17 markets and says it will have local fiber networks deployed in 30 markets by mid-2004. But the carrier is still far behind competitors, which have almost national local network coverage.The carrier is using its local networks to connect its central office switch sites in each metropolitan area, which will eliminate local mileage charges for many customers. Sprint also is using its networks to connect its Sprint PCS switches to its landline network.Although Sprint doesn't offer business users local fiber services at this time, cost savings will be passed on to users, says Jim Patterson, vice president for access at Sprint. Sprint says its metropolitan facilities will reduce expenses greatly by eliminating the need for leased local facilities in cities around the country. "The cost to grow a new fiber ring is still 85% lower than our best price from a [local exchange carrier]," Patterson says.Industry experts say the plan has merit."Access has been a big cost for Sprint because they've leased facilities from LECs, except in cities where Sprint is the incumbent LEC," says Ron Kaplan, an analyst at IDC.MAN coverageSprint has fiber rings in these 17 metropolitan areas:\u2022Chicago\u2022Orlando\u2022Columbus, Ohio\u2022Philadelphia\u2022Dallas\u2022Portland\u2022Houston\u2022Raleigh, N.C.\u2022Kansas City, Kan.\u2022St. Louis\u2022Los Angeles\u2022San Francisco\u2022Newark, N.J.\u2022Van Buren, Ark.\u2022New York\u2022Washington, D.C.\u2022Oklahoma City\u00a0Sprint is deploying its own fiber strands in some cities and in others, such as Atlanta, it is leasing dark fiber. The carrier is deploying Cisco's ONS 15454 SONET Multiservice Platform in each city to support its dense wavelength division multiplexer over SONET network architecture.But unlike competitors, the carrier is not offering direct fiber connectivity to multitenant buildings or large campus sites. Sprint's MAN deployment is designed to more efficiently support its network overall. "We will use the networks to offer cost-effective solutions for our customers," Patterson says. "Any and all customers will be able to benefit."Sprint is making headway with its MAN rollout, but it is far behind its competitors."Both WorldCom and AT&T have fairly extensive metro networks, which stem from [competitive] LEC acquisitions," Kaplan says.WorldCom has local networks in 90 markets. It also offers local network services.AT&T has local networks in 67 markets. It has 156 switches deployed and 7,500 SONET rings. AT&T doesn't plan to roll out local support in additional markets in the near term, but instead says it will continue to upgrade its existing networks, an AT&T spokesman says.Sprint has 639 SONET rings deployed."Sprint will not be catching up anytime soon," Kaplan says.