November 30, 1999 3:15 PM PST

Enron looks to build high-speed network in India

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Enron, the energy company that has expanded its operations into telecommunications, is planning to build a fiber-optic network for the government of India.

The company is careful to say that no deal has yet been signed, and that talks are in the "early stages."

"They're looking for partners to develop their network," said Kevin Kohnstamm, the company's vice president of network development. "So far we have been viewed very favorably by them."

If successful, the bid will be Enron's first foray into overseas network construction, an industry that is gaining increased attention and cash from companies like MCI WorldCom and Global Crossing. India is home to a booming technology market, and grabbing a network contract there could be a strong win for Enron's nascent telecommunications arm.

With its roots in the electric power industry, Enron is one of a handful of relatively new network builders that are joining higher-profile companies like Qwest Communications International and Level 3 Communications in building high-speed networks across the United States.

But the company is also known for creating a bandwidth "commodity market," where telecommunications companies can buy and sell surplus space on their networks.

The Indian project would connect Mumbai (the city formerly known as Bombay) and New Delhi, respectively the commercial and political centers of the country.


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