Sprint behind schedule on MPLS net

Sprint is behind on the promise it made last year to deploy its MPLS network to nearly 50 additional countries.

Last April, Sprint said it would expand its MPLS network, which at that time spanned 115 countries, to reach 163 countries. Nearly a year later, Sprint is still 26 countries behind its original goal.

A change of plans is to blame, according to the carrier. A spokeswoman said Sprint re-evaluated its strategy midyear 2006 and narrowed its focus to the areas of greatest need, but it did not make an announcement to that effect.

Today Sprint’s MPLS network reaches 137 countries — a respectable number nonetheless.

Competitors Verizon Business and AT&T are in a similar range.

Verizon announced last month that its Layer 3 VPN MPLS service is available in 121 countries and territories. AT&T announced plans last month to expand the reach of its MPLS network 155 countries by year-end. Today the carrier supports MPLS in 137 countries.

Although Sprint is staying competitive with AT&T and Verizon today, the funds it has earmarked for long-distance network spending might give some customers reason to pause. Last year Sprint spent US$800 million on its long-distance networks. This year the carrier says it plans to spend $600 million on the same networks, which include all of its landline data networks. In comparison, AT&T says it will spend $750 million on its IP MPLS networks alone in 2007.

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