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BellSouth, Sprint Nextel Plan Business Data Service

BellSouth said Monday it has teamed up with Sprint Nextel Corp. to create a next generation data network aimed at business customers.

The nationwide service will be launched in the first quarter of 2006 and comes as two other former Baby Bells -- SBC and Verizon -- continue to roll out data services. SBC is using its acquisition of AT&T and Verizon its acquisition of MCI to address business data markets.

BellSouth said it will utilize Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) in the service, which will move data across both BellSouth and Sprint networks. The service, which is aimed at businesses with broadly distributed office locations, will provide managed solutions regardless of customer location.

While the service will initially use BellSouth’s private IP backbone in the southeastern U.S., it will utilize Sprint’s network in other regions. Recently merged with Nextel, Sprint has long operated one of the nation’s most robust nationwide fiber optic networks.