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Qwest strikes service deals

Two companies commit to using Qwest's fiber-optic network to provide new, Internet-related telephone services.

Qwest Communications has announced two separate deals in which companies have committed to using its planned fiber optic network to provide new, Internet-related telephone services.

Under the terms of the first deal, Internet service provider CAIS Internet has signed a ten-year contract in which Qwest will carry traffic for CAIS, as it expands its so-called OverVoice service, which currently is offered in only five cities, to some 130, the companies said.

OverVoice expands existing telephone wiring to give it the capacity to carry high-speed Internet traffic in addition to traditional voice traffic, allowing a single line to simultaneously make and receive calls and access the Net. The deal was valued at $100 million.

A second deal calls for General Magic to use Qwest's network to roll out a forthcoming service known as Portico. The service will combine Net and traditional phone services, for example, by allowing users to access phone mail, email, computer files, and Net content via either a telephone or Web browser. Sunnyvale, California-based General Magic said Portico will be commercially available on July 30.

A multimedia communications company based in Denver, Colorado, Qwest is building a high-speed, 18,449-mile network to serve more than 130 cities. Currently, it has completed only 8,500 miles, but says it will complete the job by the second quarter of 1999.