AT&T expands services in Middle East

LM Ericsson has selected AT&T to provide an advanced VPN across the Middle East

AT&T is pumping up its services in the Middle East by expanding its network in the region and building up its local presence there, the company announced Monday.

In addition, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson has selected AT&T to provide an advanced VPN (virtual private network) across the Middle East, AT&T said.

An AT&T network node being deployed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with Saudi Telecommunications and NavLink is expected to be operational by the end of the year, AT&T said. AT&T owns a minority stake of NavLink.

Data infrastructure from AT&T will allow AT&T and NavLink customers to directly connect to Saudi Telecommunications' nationwide MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) network, which is the largest in the Middle East.

AT&T will also deploy a new global network node in Kuwait, with cooperation from QualityNet, a local provider of data networking services. The companies will work with NavLink to activate MPLS node during 2008, AT&T said.

QualityNet will host the global network node and allow AT&T to offer VPN services to Kuwaiti customers seeking global connectivity and to AT&T's existing multinational customers seeking to expand in the Middle East.

AT&T currently has network facilities operating in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These expansion are part of AT&T's $750 million global investment program announced earlier this year.

In the coming months, AT&T plans to hire more sales and support employees in Dubai, it said.

In the Ericsson deal, worth $6 million, AT&T will provide VPN services to support Ericsson's growing business activities in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. The agreement builds on a relationship between the two companies in which AT&T provides network services to Ericsson's business in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

The key requirements for the deal included a reliable network, a comprehensive service level agreement and speedy implementation, Carl-Magnus Månsson, chief information officer of Ericsson, said in a statement.