Global Crossing Lights Up Rich-Media Extranet

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Global Crossing Ltd. said it will enable content providers to leverage its fiber-optic network to digitally deliver, manage and store large, rich-media and copyright sensitive materials such as games, music, TV shows and Hollywood films.

That "extranet" will take up a portion of Global Crossing's 101,000 route-mile grid, which stretches across five continents and reaches more than 200 major cities.

"We've built this network over the last four years and designed it to handle content needs today and into the future as far as anyone can see," said Donna Reeves, the newly appointed president of Global Crossing's media and entertainment division.

Global Crossing's network is about 85-percent complete, she said, though the company plans to extend its fiber lines to more cities in the future.

Reeves said the extranet's goal is to ink access deals with broadcasters, cable operators, movie studios and other content or service providers. The company has been meeting with top executives in each sector over the last year to "co-author a strategy that would fit their needs."

Global Crossing has yet to announce any extranet customers, but a few could surface at this week's National Association of Broadcasters gathering in Las Vegas, she said.

Companies that use the extranet also are expected to save money in courier and overnight shipping costs. Content providers "haven't been able to modernize that process. Our network will be a critical component to connect their supply chains," she added.

Content digitization also will protect those assets as analog masters deteriorate, she said.

Global Crossing will use its own digital-rights management technologies and tap third- party shielding technologies to protect digitized films from unauthorized copying. The added protection could give cable operators earlier access to top-flight movies for video-on-demand services, Reeves predicted.

To spur use of its new extranet, Global Crossing has partnered with Bear Stearns subsidiary Constellation Ventures to provide financial support to studios and other content players that wish to tap into its secure media and entertainment network. Constellation will manage a cash well of $100 million to help those content providers develop applications specifically designed for Global Crossing's extranet.

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