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ATT turns on coast-to-coast higher-speed network

Associated Press

NEW YORK — AT&T Inc. said on Monday it has switched on its high-speed backbone network, which is designed to ferry data traffic across the U.S. four times faster.

AT&T has begun placing traffic on its so-called "ultra-long haul" network, which boasts a capacity of 40 gigabits per second, meaning consumers will be able to download large files quicker and more easily stream online videos to their computers. Carriers have been upgrading the backbone network — the underlying pipes needed to move data across extremely long distances — to meet the increasing demand in bandwidth-intensive programs and videos.

The company, which is deploying routing equipment supplied by Cisco Systems Inc., has upgraded 50,000 miles of its network and plans to connect 25 major metropolitan areas in the next several months. AT&T doesn’t break out the cost of the network upgrade, but a spokesman said the expenses were covered under the company’s overall capital-expenditure outlay.

In addition to a faster connection for consumers, the upgrades will help ease the capacity requirements for the company’s U-Verse Internet-based TV system.

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While the network is the first in the U.S., Verizon Communications Inc. said that this month it would begin building a 2,000-mile backbone network connecting major cities in Europe.

Both companies plan to push the 40-gigabit standard in the U.S. and eventually upgrade to 100 Gbps.

Shares of AT&T fell 28 cents to $38.19 in Monday afternoon trading. Verizon’s stock rose 1 cent to $45.31.

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