AT&T goes after abandoned Web-hosting market

Sprint Corp. is getting out of the Web-hosting business and AT&T Corp. has begun an aggressive campaign to bring displaced federal and commercial customers to its data centers.

AT&T's transition program, announced one week after Sprint said it would be leaving the field, will offer customers moving from another company free installation and free equipment transport up to 300 miles, expedited contracting, flexible financing and aggressive pricing, including one month of free services.

Sprint announced earlier this month that it would be winding down its hosting business, at a cost of at least $400 million. It will be phasing out operations at eight E-Solutions data centers around the country and consolidating operations in two corporate data centers in Kansas City, Mo., and Reston, Va.

But Sprint will retain some customers, and the change could have minimal impact on nine federal agencies now using Sprint Web hosting services.

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

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

AT&T is hoping to snag as many of those customers as possible and will be launching an advertising campaign in the coming weeks to trumpet its program.

It is not just Sprint that has prompted the move.

"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 Communication Inc. of Stamford, Conn.

AT&T would like to become a preferred partner with companies shedding their customers.

"We have contacted them all," about coordinating migration to a new host, said Chuck Sanders, AT&T vice president of hosting and managed services.

AT&T has been moving strongly back into the government market in recent years after having initially been 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 current customers for Web hosting are the General Services Administration, NASA and the Office of Personnel Management. The company in August was awarded a four-year, $7.6 million contract to host the FirstGov portal for GSA.

AT&T has 21 Internet Data Centers integrated into its network around the world, including 13 in the United States.

William Jackson writes for Government Computer News.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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