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Global Crossing moves ahead with Net plans

The company completes initial trials of its international "backbone" network using high-end routing devices from Lucent, and plans to roll out Net-based voice services next year.

Upstart telecommunications company Global Crossing seems ready to go whole hog for Internet technology.

The company has completed initial trials of its international "backbone" network using high-end routing devices from Lucent Technologies. Company executives also said they plan to roll out voice services using Internet protocol (IP), the lingua franca of the Net, by the second quarter of next year, according to a Bloomberg report.

Both developments could give Lucent a boost. Global Crossing's "voice-over-IP" plans rely on Lucent technology, as do its plans to offer a cross-border backbone, or network trunk. For the latter, Global hopes to use a high-end routing device called the NX 64000 that Lucent obtained in June as part of its deal for Nexabit Networks.

Hamilton, Bermuda-based Global Crossing is building a worldwide fiber-optic network to compete with rivals such as Qwest Communications International and MCI WorldCom. It has augmented its ambitious constructions plans with the recent acquisition of Frontier.

Lucent could not immediately be reached for comment on the fiscal impact of Global Crossing's use of its technology.

Global Crossing plans to roll out voice-over-IP services in five markets during the second and third quarters of 2000, company chairman Robert Annunziata said today at a Bear, Stearns investment conference.

"Voice is the product," he said. "Voice-over-Internet Protocol is just the method of getting the cost out of the network."

To facilitate voice-over-IP services in certain markets, Global Crossing is also boosting capacity in its international backbone. Jon Plonka, vice president of IP engineering for Global Crossing, said the company plans to boost the speed of its network using equipment like the Lucent NX 64000 by the first quarter of next year.

But Plonka said the end of initial trials of Lucent's gear only signals the beginning of a more advanced round of tests. "This is the first phase of a long process," he said. "We'll see what happens on that point."

Plonka said Global plans to test high-speed equipment from others as well.

The company has implemented network technology from Cisco Systems throughout much of its network. It has also deployed high-end routing devices from upstart Juniper Networks.

Lucent executives said the success of initial tests is a milestone for the Nexabit technology, thought to be among the fastest methods available to route traffic, given its 6.4 terabits of traffic per second capability.

"There is not enough bandwidth at all," said Mukesh Chatter, general manager for Lucent's core routing technologies. "This opens up the arteries."

Bloomberg contributed to this report.