AT&T pursues Web-hosting market

Sprint Corp. is getting out of the Web hosting business, while AT&T Corp. has begun an aggressive campaign to bring Sprint's federal and commercial business to its data centers.

AT&T's transition program, announced a week after Sprint said it would leave the field, provides free installation, equipment transport up to 300 miles, expedited contracting and aggressive pricing, including a free month of service.

Sprint announced earlier this month that it would wind down its hosting business, writing off at least $400 million. It will phase out operations at eight E-Solutions centers around the country and consolidate at two data centers in Kansas City, Mo., and Reston, Va.

Sprint will keep some business, which could mean minimal impact on nine federal agencies now using Sprint Web hosting services.

'The nine will have the opportunity to move to the Kansas City or Reston center at Sprint's expense,' spokesman Steve Lunceford said. 'If they want to revisit the issue and look at other opportunities, they can do that, too.'

Sprint has not withdrawn Web hosting from the services it offers under its FTS 2001 telecommunications contract, however, according to the General Services Administration.

WorldCom Inc., Sprint, AT&T and Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver 'all offer Web hosting services to the government,' GSA spokeswoman Mary Alice Johnson said. 'Thus far, there is no noticeable decline in the amount of service we provide in that area.'

Most of the Sprint customers 'will be offered a chance to migrate to preferred partners we are in the process of identifying,' Lunceford said.

AT&T hopes to snag as many Web customers as possible because 'we are seeing some other providers in the marketplace exit this business,' said Pat Traynor, AT&T vice president of sales. Among them are Cable and Wireless PLC of San Francisco and Level 3 Communications Inc. of Stamford, Conn.

AT&T also wants to become a preferred partner for companies shedding their Web hosting customers. 'We have contacted them all' about coordinating migration to a new host, said Chuck Sanders, vice president of hosting and managed services.

AT&T has been moving back into the government market after being frozen out of much of the long-distance market under the FTS 2001 contract. 'Growth in the government channel has been quite significant for us,' Traynor said.

Among its current Web hosting customers are GSA, NASA and the Office of Personnel Management. The company in August received a four-year, $7.6 million contract to host the portal for GSA.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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