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Sprint taps Nortel for network upgrade

The four-year, $1.1 billion deal will convert Sprint's entire network of telephone lines to a system that splits up voice and data traffic.

Nortel Networks has signed a four-year, $1.1 billion deal to provide services and equipment to convert Sprint's Local Telecommunications Division's network to new packet-switch technology, the companies said Monday.

Packet-switching allows voice and data traffic to be split up into smaller pieces, or packets, and sent separately across a network. The technology is faster than traditional network transmissions and allows multiple phone and data connections to use the same line.

Sprint said it plans to convert its entire network of 3.6 million telephone lines to the system. Nortel will begin shipping equipment later this quarter, executives said, and Sprint will begin implementing it in 2002.

Nortel, which lost $3.5 billion in the third quarter and saw its sales fall nearly 45 percent from a year ago, signed a similar deal with Qwest in October.