Qwest to build network for NASA lab

Qwest Communications International Inc. won a contract to provide a high-speed optical network to three research facilities in West Virginia, including NASA's Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) facility in Fairmont, W.Va.

Qwest officials described the five-year contract as in the multimillion-dollar range, but did not specify the value. The OC-12 synchronous optical network will link the NASA facility with the West Virginia University Research Corp. and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, both in Morgantown.

The network also enables connectivity to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center terascale computer and other research organizations nationwide. Under the contract, Qwest is providing equipment, construction and network management. Local service in West Virginia is provided by Allegheny Energy Inc.'s Allegheny Communications Connect. "Qwest worked with each to build the network on site, keeping cost to the customer as low as possible," said James Payne, senior vice president of the company's Government Services Division. The new architecture allows for expanded bandwidth to all the connected facilities, and additional users can be connected later, said Ned Keeler, director of NASA's IV&V facility, which took the lead in developing the network upgrade.

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