Data and internet protocol services account for a third of AT&T Business Services revenue. Its a paradox: Business Services saw revenue slide precipitously in 2000, but volume on its IP networks doubled during that time.
"We recognized that customers dont want to buy infrastructure, they want to buy services," says Sanford Brown, vice president and general manager at AT&T Web Hosting Services.
"We are very much bullish about the future of the network and networkcentric services."
And AT&T has been selling services like crazy: virtual private networks, managed applications, voice-over-IP, hosting in 16 U.S. Web centers and so on.
In the U.S., it runs on a coast-to-coast OC-192 (10-gigabit-per-second) backbone with 80 regional Synchronous Optical Network rings, connected to 21 major market hubs by OC-48 (2.5 Gbps) and 100 more by OC-3 (155 megabits per second). There are 60 more major backbone hubs overseas.
AT&T President David Dorman came on board last fall to lead Business Services after a year and a half at the helm of Concert, AT&Ts international joint venture with British Telecommunications to serve multinational corporations.
AT&T jumped into the backbone business in 1998, when it agreed to pay $5 billion cash for IBMs global network. The deal instantly gave AT&T the worldwide data network it needed, including nodes in 93 of the original 100 cities targeted for Concert.
Whatever the outcome, Brown remains bullish on backbone and IP services as a growth industry — not just in spite of the downturn, but because of it.
He points to demand for network-centric applications like customer relationship management, the need for real-time access to customers and data scattered across the globe, and he calls for greater efficiency.
"Theres real value being created here. Real costs being taken out, real cycle time being taken out," he says.