MCI, Newbridge expand deal

The new agreement expands the companies' relationship to include a wider selection of Newbridge's networking products.

Telecommunications giant MCI (MCIC) and equipment provider Newbridge Networks (NN) announced an extension to their agreement to jointly market and sell networks based on an array of internetworking technologies.

The two companies have worked together since 1993, but the new agreement expands the relationship to include a wider selection of Newbridge's product line. The company's portfolio expanded in late 1996 with its acquisition of UB Networks for about $100 million, allowing the firm to offer both departmental networking hardware and wide area gear.

The new pact will continue through the year 2000.

The augmented deal is the latest in a series of joint agreements between networking services companies and data networking equipment firms. Cisco Systems announced an agreement with Alcatel Telecom in June and rival 3Com soon followed by announcing a similar arrangement with Siemens in July.

"I think this is what the future holds," said Ron Novak, director of MCI global accounts for Newbridge. "Companies are looking for a single provider who can offer the products and services in a single portfolio."

The new agreement covers Newbridge's LAN (local area network)-based gear for departments and offices as well as the company's wide area gear for frame relay and ATM (asynchronous transfer mode)-based networks.

The expanded partnership could affect Newbridge's bottom line going forward, a fact that is not lost on company executives. "We're looking for bigger numbers in the future," Novak said.

Newbridge's stock closed down 3-1/2 points for the day.