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France Telecom to build U.S. network

The overseas telecommunications giant will construct a fiber-optic network in the United States, competing with home-grown companies like WorldCom and Qwest.

Overseas telecommunications giant France Telecom said today it would build a fiber-optic network in the United States, competing with home-grown companies like WorldCom and Qwest Communications International.

The 15,000-mile network will in part replace the footprint that France Telecom had in the United States as a result of its now-dissolved partnership with Sprint. Those two companies, along with Deutsche Telekom, had co-managed the Global One international alliance, which collapsed late last year.

The French company said it would use the network largely for big international customers served by Global One, which it now wholly owns.

It will spend $200 million over the next year and a half to complete the 28-city network, executives said today. The fiber network itself will likely come from Level 3 Communications, although this deal has yet to be finalized. Nortel Networks and Alcatel each will serve as equipment vendors.

Global One is already licensed to operate in the United States. The company said it would open sales offices in the United States by the end of this year. The network itself is slated for completion by the end of 2001.