Toronto-based companies Sprint Canada Inc. and Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) announced Wednesday the implementation of a national, high-speed data network that will support HBC’s employee and retail store communications.

The three-year data contract with Sprint Canada will provide HBC, Canada’s fifth-largest employer, with a managed frame relay network that will consolidate its remote locations and dispersed local area networks (LANs). The network will link HBC’s 70,000 employees and 500 retail stores (including The Bay, Zellers, and Home Outfitter chains) on the corporate network, the companies said.

The deal comes in light of recent news that HBC, like many of its competitors, is facing difficulties in a shaky retailer market. The company has announced the strong likelihood of missing some targets for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31.

HBC needed a cost-effective network solution that could meet the growing bandwidth requirements and deal with day-to-day support and administration, said Jim Lambert, IT general manager at HBC, adding that Sprint Canada was selected because of its integration and implementation capabilities.

The data networking solution will reduce the up-front investment and implementation time needed to upgrade and manage the network internally, said Greg McCamus, enterprise communications solutions group president at Sprint Canada.

“(HBC’s) needs are to connect all their stores and remote locations to their host sites and they needed a secure and managed network solution – and that’s what we are providing,” McCamus said. “For the geographic coverage that’s required for Hudson’s Bay, this was the best solution available,” McCamus said.

“It’s a frame relay network with ISDN backup, and one the major changes with the network is increased capacity,” McCamus said. “We deployed Cisco gear throughout…use of the Cisco gear was a very important element to the entire network.”

“Our solution had to be scalable and capable of addressing HBC’s future requirements for employee and customer interaction,” McCamus said, adding the design also provides increased speed and better redundancy at the host site.

Hudson’s Bay Co. in Toronto, is at

Sprint Canada Inc. in Toronto is at

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