NETs Group doubles DWDM capacity

NETWORKS

By EDWARD HARROFF

NETs Group, a member of the Tiscali Group, is leveraging high-speed optical networks to secure its place among the new breed of pan-European carriers. Right from the start, NETs has bet on a handsome payback on its pioneering efforts with DWDM transmission systems.

NETs launched the first DWDM link between Paris and London in 1997, and by June 2000, its northern network was completed, linking France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Several analysts refer to these network routings as the "golden triangle" of broadband backhaul services in Europe. Every major pan-European network infrastructure provider seems to have DWDM capacity along these routes, since the 1998 European directives on telecommunications deregulation came into effect.

Under the recently announced contract, Lucent Technologies will expand NETs' pan-European optical network and enable it to add capacity for its broadband customers across Europe. Lucent has been involved in NETs' network as the primary DWDM supplier.

This capacity upgrade agreement expands NETs' network into Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe. Previously, Lucent had installed NETs' optical networks in Northern Europe and the link between France and the United Kingdom. NETs' pan-European network will reach 15,000 km of optical fiber by the end of 2001, interconnecting 60 large European cities.

As demand for services like high-speed Internet access continues to grow and bandwidth-hungry applications like video on demand become increasingly popular, these high-capacity, scalable optical networks will be able to help NETs keep up with the IP traffic demand. Especially, IP traffic from NETs' largest-capacity customer (Tiscali-owned Internet service providers-ISPs) continues to increase as more Internet users log on.

"We are particularly pleased to announce this further agreement with Lucent Technologies. As a strategic partner, it really helps us deliver the highest quality of service to meet our commitment to customer satisfaction," says Daniel Betrand, director of marketing, Europe, of NETs Group.

Lucent will install its newer optical technology, upgrading NETs' current 400-Gbit/sec DWDM system to the Lucent WaveStar OLS 800G, which transmits at 800 Gbits/sec. The Lucent WaveStar OLS system has permitted NETs to light a bare minimum of dark fiber pairs and still offer attractive broadband services over long distance.

NETs joined the Tiscali Group in December 1999, a move that enabled the company to step up its network expansion program while providing Tiscali with backbone services and technological expertise. Tiscali is currently rated in the top tier of European ISPs with more than seven million Internet subscribers.

Other NETs infrastructure milestones announced this year include a mutual European broadband capacity contract with Telia International Carrier. (The contracts with Tiscali and Telia total more than 18 million euros.) The Telia deal reinforces the relationship between the two carriers.

Telia sells wavelength capacity on the route Amsterdam-Copenhagen-Oslo-Stockholm-Copenhagen-DÜsseldorf with a speed of 2.5 Gbits/sec. The carrier also provides NETs with an end-to-end solution that includes support services, collocation, and dark fiber local loops in Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam.

At the same time, NETs Group sells Telia a bandwidth "open purchasing list," which allows Telia to acquire bandwidth where and when needed. This deal demonstrates NETs' positioning, which is aimed at considering bandwidth as a commodity, easy to access, and provided with very flexible conditions.

"The cooperation with NETs is an important step in the further strengthening of our Viking network in Europe," declares Telia International Carrier CEO Lars Rydin. "This agreement allows us to offer reliable bandwidth with outstanding flexibility and reactivity."

The timing of these announcements closely follows the wave of ISP takeovers by Tiscali in the Nordic region. NETs is looking to add Nordic network footprint in the minimum amount of time. Of course, Telia's southern European presence is also dramatically improved.

Edward Harroff writes on telecommunications issues from Bellevue, Switzerland, for the GEID Press Agency (Paris).

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