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MCI, Pac Bell to ease Net traffic

MCI and Pacific Bell are beefing up the capacity of their Net infrastructure to reduce online traffic jams.

Hoping to cut down on the Internet traffic jams that have some predicting the demise of the Net and others cursing in frustration, telecommunications giants MCI Telecommunications and Pacific Bell are significantly beefing up the capacity of their Net infrastructures.

Both Pacific Bell and MCI plan to offer 622-mbps (OC12) connections to the Internet, dwarfing the 155-mbps (OC3) and 45-mbps (DS3) links offered by other Internet service providers now. As a result, both business customers with direct Net connections and users that get online via Internet service providers will notice some relief from the congestion that increasingly brings Internet traffic to a crawl, according to the companies.

For MCI's nationwide Internet backbone, over which 45 percent of all domestic traffic is carried, the switch to OC12 will happen some time next year. "We're on track to do our whole network as OC12 by early next year," said Leslie Aun, a spokeswoman for MCI. She added that most of the company's Internet backbone now runs over OC3 connections.

In the meantime, MCI today announced a more general upgrade to its nationwide network that will aid performance of all its services, including voice, multimedia, and Internet access, by transmitting four fiber optic light streams over a single line.

In the third quarter, Pacific Bell will also upgrade its backbone to OC12 for its network access point (NAP) for Northern California, where more than a dozen local Internet service providers and telcos connect to the nationwide Internet backbone, including The Well, ANS, and MCI. The change should boost capacity by about 400 percent, according to the company.

"The main need for this [upgrade] is congestion on the Net," said Jim Diestel, director of Internet NAP Marketing at Pacific Bell. "Users are experiencing greater delays that are brought about by the Internet growing. This will be noticed immediately by those carriers directly connected to the NAP."

There are three other official Internet NAPs--in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.--but California accounts for 31 percent of all Internet traffic in the United States, Pacific Bell said.

Pacific Bell will begin testing high-speed switches from StrataCom in the third quarter that will make the new bandwidth possible. The Baby Bell also plans to establish additional Internet NAP sites, boost the bandwidth of its Net backbone, and consider providing Web caching services.

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