Key Network Benefits:

  • New optical technology will reduce operating costs up to 70 percent
  • Decrease the number of network regeneration points by as much as 90 percent
  • Reduce backbone provisioning cycles as much as 95 percent, enabling activation of new services for customers in a matter of hours instead of months
  • Unlock massive bandwidth that could simultaneously transmit more than 100 times the traffic of every broadcast channel worldwide, and still have capacity to spare

Denver, November 22, 1999 - Qwest Communications International Inc. (Nasdaq: QWST), the broadband Internet communications company, today announced plans to aggressively rollout an all-optical network that will enable a host of new, Internet and customer-managed bandwidth services while reducing operation costs by as much as 70 percent over traditional network technologies.

Slated for deployment in the first half of 2000, this expansion of Qwest's market leading 18,500-mile completed fiber network exploits the latest optical technology to deliver an industry-breakthrough architecture, decreasing the number of network connection points up to 90 percent and provisioning times by as much as 95 percent. By leveraging such radical new efficiencies, Qwest will not only provide customers with unprecedented capacity, but will offer it much more quickly, in many more increments and at a lower cost. Qwest, the first company to deliver a nationwide Optical Carrier (OC)-192 speed network over a SONET architecture, will now be first to deliver the first coast-to-coast, all-optical Internet Protocol network at OC-192 and beyond - all while preserving and extending the reliability associated with SONET.

"We are continuing to deliver cutting-edge technology with Qwest's next generation all-optical network," said Joseph P. Nacchio, Qwest chairman and CEO. "Our customers will continue to have unmatched network performance, deliver services enabled by massive bandwidth-on-demand, and maintain their lead on competitors."

Qwest plans to build an open, multi-vendor network that will comprise a range of emerging technologies from promising start-up companies such as Corvis Corp., Qtera Corp. and Juniper Networks to market leader Cisco Systems.

In another industry first, Qwest has already successfully completed a field trial with Qtera on the industry's only commercial, all-optical test bed, enabled by Qwest's completed fiber capacity. As a result of trials such as this effort with Qtera, Qwest's customers will be assured of quality, reliability and superior performance of services in an actual business environment as compared with only a laboratory test.

Separately, Qwest has an option to take an ownership position in Qtera and Corvis to drive development of their leading-edge photonic networking technologies. Qwest has been working with both companies over the past year to help cultivate and test their latest optical equipment.

Faster Speeds Enable Advanced Customer Applications The all-optical network allows Qwest to upgrade its CyberCenters and Internet Protocol (IP) backbone to OC-192. OC-192 carries traffic at up to 10 Gigabits-per-second -- four times faster than any existing IP network - enabling a range of ultra-high-bandwidth multimedia services for customers. The network will have the capacity to transmit multiple-terabits of digital information coast-to-coast within seconds. For example, the network could simultaneously carry the traffic generated by 300,000 broadcast channels -- more than 100 times the number of channels available worldwide today - and still have capacity to spare.

"This is a terabit step across the country and into the light for Qwest," said technology visionary George Gilder, Chairman of GilderGroup Inc.

By leveraging multiple fiber capacity in its existing 18,500-mile network, Qwest plans to begin delivering new optical network services early next year without any disruption to the performance of the current network. When fully deployed, the all-optical network will offer seamless, end-to-end connectivity at OC-192 speed via existing backbone fiber and newly-installed local fiber in 25 major metropolitan areas, enabling unprecedented real-time applications.

The new optical network will also enable Qwest to further advance service deployments already announced with Microsoft and drive Qwest's development of next generation Internet-based broadband applications and services.

"With the completion of the all-optical network, Qwest will be well positioned to meet the increasing demands of its customers for a wide range of services", said Thomas Koll, vice president, Network Solutions Group, Microsoft. "Hosted applications offered by Qwest, such as the recently announced Microsoft Office Online, can leverage the performance of this new network to further improve the overall service experience for Qwest's business customers."

Nacchio said, "Once again, Qwest is upping the ante by delivering the fastest, most cost-effective IP service available anywhere. We're working with the recognized leaders and emerging companies in the optical industry so that our customers can tap into the world's most sophisticated technology - and lead their own industries. We have the vision, the infrastructure, low-cost position in the marketplace and now we're ready to execute."

Greater Network Simplicity, Capacity Drives New ServicesUnder the new network infrastructure, a coast-to-coast OC-192 signal will need to pass through just two regeneration connection points instead of 30 under a typical SONET network -- a 90 percent improvement. This simplified architecture, unparalleled in the industry, will give Qwest one of the most scalable and low cost OC-192 nationwide IP backbones in the world. In turn, Qwest customers will be able to exploit this architecture to create advanced bandwidth-on-demand services, such as video broadcasting or real-time collaboration, at higher speeds and lower costs for their own customer bases.

The upgraded network shifts away from a traditional SONET ring design while improving upon the self-healing benefits associated with that architecture. At the same time, implementation of next generation Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) brings massive amounts of bandwidth to the new all-optical backbone. Optical networking with new DWDM increases the capacity over a single fiber to multiple terabits per second and will allow Qwest to assign customers individual wavelengths to build their own highly-scalable private networks. Qwest and its customers can drive more revenue-generating services by tapping the ability to easily access, quickly provision, dynamically restore and intelligently manage all that bandwidth.

The all-optical network will offer unparalleled bandwidth management, allowing customers to choose from a variety of service levels customized to their needs. Customers can takes advantage of multiple options relating to latency, restoration times and bandwidth availability. For the first time in the industry, customers will be able to choose from distinct wholesale, retail and on-demand bandwidth services, managed and restorable up to OC-192 capacity and beyond. Once deployed, for example, customers will be able to choose between express or multiple-hop routes, depending on their requirements. Prices will be determined when Qwest's new all-optical services are made available to customers.

New Emerging Technology Division To Drive Industry Partnerships, StandardsIn upgrading its network, Qwest will expand existing strategic relationships with Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks. Moreover, the company has created an Emerging Technologies division, headed by vice president Vab Goel, that will foster relationships with Corvis, Qtera, Siara Systems and Sycamore Networks, among others. The new division will work with strategic partners in other key emerging-technology areas, such as new network applications. The next generation all-optical network is based upon an open architecture, and Qwest will drive open standards for new internetworking technologies among the companies involved in the new network.

About Qwest
Qwest Communications International Inc. (Nasdaq: QWST) is a leader in reliable, scalable and secure broadband Internet-based data, voice and image communications for businesses and consumers. The Qwest Macro Capacity® Fiber Network, designed with the newest optical networking, spans more than 18,500 miles in the United States, with an additional 315-mile network to be completed by the end of the year. In addition, KPNQwest, Qwest's European joint venture with KPN, the Dutch telecommunications company, is building and will operate a high-capacity European fiber optic, Internet-based network that will span 9,150 miles when it is completed in 2001. Qwest also has completed a 1,400-mile network in Mexico.

This release may contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results. Readers are referred to the documents filed by Qwest with the SEC, specifically the most recent reports which identify important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, including potential fluctuations in quarterly results, dependence on new product development, rapid technological and market change, failure to maintain the rights of way, financial risk management and future growth subject to risks, Qwest's ability to achieve Year 2000 compliance, and adverse changes in the regulatory or legislative environment, and failure to complete the merger and achieve projected synergies and financial results timely or at all. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties, for which Qwest assumes no responsibility. Qwest undertakes no obligation to review or confirm analysts' expectations or estimates or to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

Contact Information

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Jane Morrissey