Week of August 14, 2000
  Blockbuster Deal of the Week
   from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database

BellSouth's New Miami Access Point
Will Ease Internet Clog

It's not your standard Blockbuster Deal: For the moment, we only know the project's location - Miami - and that its price tag will run into the "multimillions" of dollars.

Nonetheless, a blockbuster it is: BellSouth has just announced that it is creating a public network access point (NAP) that will be the first built in the United States since 1996. With Internet traffic doubling every two to three months, the project promises some welcome relief for some users, both in the USA and elsewhere, struggling with the Net's often slug-like speeds.

A BellSouth official compared the project - dubbed the Florida Multimedia Internet exchange (FloridaMIX) -- "to putting in a 20-lane cloverleaf."

The project also holds considerable potential benefits for members of the real estate industry, for whom cyberspace is increasingly the glue that holds things together. ISPs Jumping on Board A horde of Internet service providers (ISPs) is already jumping on board.

ISPs currently part of the FloridaMIX project include Diveo; FPL Fibernet; Intermedia; International Wireless Communications; NETRAIL; Qwest; and UUNET (a WorldCom company).

"The support we've received from participating ISPs validates the technology and the approach we've taken," said Bill Smith, BellSouth executive vice president of network planning and chief technology officer. "The FloridaMIX will provide a carrier-neutral hub for ISPs to efficiently handle global bandwidth demands."

The FloridaMIX will be available to all ISPs and requires no purchase of transport from BellSouth in order to participate, company officials explained. New NAP Will Employ Higher-End Technology In addition to being the first U.S. NAP built in four years, the FloridaMIX project will employ technology that is significantly higher-end that what's employed at existing access points. (The existing U.S. network access point are held by ICS Network System, in New York; SBC Communications, in Chicago and San Francisco; Sprint Corp., in New York; and WorldCom, in Washington, D.C.).

The FloridaMIX exchange will be the first public access point employing technologies such as OC-192 and dense wavelength division multiplexing. Such technologies can provide speeds of more than 200 billion bits per second. Said one BellSouth official at the FloridaMIX announcement, "You could download the entire [U.S.] Library of Congress in 126 seconds." BellSouth Florida President Joe Locker, speaking at a press conference announcing the project, also emphasized FloridaMIX's major impact on online speed.

"I never thought I'd be talking about the limitations of the speed of light, but with the optical switching network that's exactly the case," Locker said. "The existing systems just don't have what it takes to deliver next-generation services. This is the first step to providing those services."

The FloridaMIX network will combine optical switching, fiber networks and four connection points that will be located in South Florida's Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties.

Impact of FloridaMIX Will Extend beyond U.S. Borders

Among U.S. Internet users, those in the Southeast will reap the biggest benefits. Much of the Southeast's Internet traffic now follows a circuitous path, sometimes routed to the Washington, D.C., area or even as far away as West Coast network hubs.

Hardly the shortest distance between two points. And that underscores the overload that the Internet Revolution has placed on U.S. "infostructure." With the existing network's clogged channels, even broadband-enabled users still suffer from slow access speeds. And online videos often look like badly dubbed foreign films, presented for your viewing pleasure by the Projectionist from Hell.

But the impact of FloridaMIX will extend beyond the U.S. Southeast. Carrying Internet traffic through the multiple termination points for fiber optic cables in the Southeast, FloridaMIX will link data traffic between the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Western Europe.

Officials: Latin Link A Major Issue for FloridaMIX

The Latin American link was a major factor spurring the creation of FloridaMIX, explained BellSouth and government officials.

"Latin America is one of the fastest growing areas in the world for Internet access," said BellSouth's Smith. "Very high-speed fiber links between our regions are being installed now. We felt it was imperative to have a high-speed, secure and reliable capability for supporting new multimedia Internet services."

Internet usage in Latin America is tripling each year, Locker said.

"Florida, in particular the South Florida area, has always been the nation's gateway to Latin America," said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (www.myflorida.com), who has strongly advocated locating a public network access point in South Florida.

"BellSouth's announcement will have a far-reaching impact that will extend beyond the Internet Coast, throughout the state of Florida, and across the Western Hemisphere. The FloridaMIX will spur economic growth and cement South Florida as the Internet gateway to the world," Bush added.

BellSouth officials said work will begin immediately on the FloridaMIX project. The newest U.S. NAP, they projected, should be open by the end of 2000.

©2000 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.