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Qwest exec: Future is bandwidth

Qwest Communications continues to call for a telecommunications Wild West, with a high-speed fiber network in its holster.

ATLANTA--Qwest Communications continues to call for a telecommunications Wild West with a high-speed fiber network in its holster.

While noting continued setbacks in court, president and chief executive Joseph Nacchio painted a bright bandwidth-filled future for attendees of the Networld+Interop industry conference here, underscoring his own firm's role in facilitating it.

Nacchio, a former longtime AT&T executive, said new-age networks, such as his own firm's 18,500 fiber-based layout, will propel use of the Net forward, driving voice, video, and data applications as well as the ongoing boom in electronic commerce.

"We're facing a bandwidth future unfettered by historical scarcity," Nacchio claimed. "The 'World of Now' is basically a rapidly shifting foundation for this future. We're finally entering a time where we won't be constrained by physical limitations of technology but, rather, by our own imagination."

Qwest is one of several new carriers that want to provide a variety of network services using a brand-new fiber-based infrastructure as a means to gain a cost and performance advantage over entrenched rivals. So far, Qwest has completed about half of its layout, Nacchio claimed.

Nacchio dismissed entrenched rivals such as his former employer, MCI Worldcom, and Sprint as legacies of the Old World and called for an end to federal regulations that impede the opportunities of firms like Qwest. "The regulators cannot continue to allow old incumbents to influence the decision-making process," he said.

Recent deals with US West and Ameritech that would have allowed Qwest to sell long-distance services to the two Baby Bells were struck down by the Federal Communications Commission, the latest in a litany of litigation for the firm.

He called on the audience to make themselves heard on the issue. "I would be encouraged to see more movement to lift constraints," Nacchio said.

Separately, Nacchio noted that Qwest's orders for Cisco Systems' 12000 series routers--the data giant's high-end hardware--represent two-thirds of the entire manufacturing capacity for the product. Qwest also uses equipment from Ascend Communications and Nortel Networks in its network.

Nacchio also said in a question-and-answer session following his speech that the company is looking at equipment from up-and-coming high-speed players such as Juniper Networks and Avici Systems.