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UNET Delivers Gigabit Broadband Services to the City of Almere with Cisco Carrier Ethernet Technology


Gigabit broadband spawns multitude of shared services for public sector organisations.

ALMERE, The Netherlands, February 21, 2006 - Cisco Systems® today announced that UNET B.V., one of the leading providers of innovative broadband services in The Netherlands, has chosen Cisco® Carrier Ethernet technology to deliver ultra-high-speed (100 megabits per second and above) broadband voice, video and data services over an optical fibre network to all public buildings and not-for-profit organizations throughout the city of Almere in The Netherlands.

UNET won the prestigious public sector shared services project in mid-2005 and is currently deploying Cisco Catalyst® 4500 Series Switches and Cisco ME 3400 Series Ethernet Access Switches to connect over 165 sites, including schools, doctors surgeries, hospitals, fire services, libraries and municipal offices.

These organisations will benefit from centralized, shared services delivered over symmetrical broadband connections of up to 2 gigabit per second, which is more than 100 times faster than typical asynchronous digital subscriber line (ADSL) connections. These shared services include Internet Protocol (IP) telephony using Cisco IP phones, centralized data backup and storage, and video-over-IP remote surveillance. With a Cisco Content Delivery Network, educational TV programmes can be delivered from central servers to schools on demand via IP. The City of Almere public services extranet will be completed by April 2006.

“For Almere, broadband is a way of attracting companies and residents who want to do business, live and work in a modern city,” said Annemarie Jorritsma, the Mayor of Almere. “It is a path for growing into one of the Netherlands’ most business and citizen-friendly cities. From a social perspective, it creates opportunities for our citizens in the field of communication, health care and education.”

The migration of existing telephone systems to a centralized IP telephony service for frontline healthcare organizations is expected to reduce operating costs by over 40 percent in the first year. Information and communications technology (ICT) services for over 100 schools will also be moved to centralized data centres to improve security and significantly reduce operating and support costs. UNET is also developing a pilot project for healthcare where doctors and specialists can consult together remotely and share detailed visual information such as MRI scans using a high-definition, video conferencing service.

The Cisco ME 3400 Series are new Ethernet access switches designed to provide a robust security solution for Metro Ethernet access services. Designed specifically for service providers for deployment at customer locations, the Cisco ME 3400 Series Ethernet Access Switches are optimized for both Ethernet to the home (ETTH) triple-play services and Ethernet to the business (ETTB) virtual private network (VPN) services.

“UNET operates the Almere fibre network on an equal access model,” explained Ger Bakker, Director of Technology at UNET. “The network has to be very versatile to support all types of services, not only for UNET but also the services delivered by third-party providers. In my experience, only Cisco has the ability to address all the demands of a true multiservice network, with quality of service for voice and video. But most importantly for public services, Cisco provides high levels of security at the network edge to safeguard each network from unauthorized access. The new ME 3400 switch gives us this multiservice capability which allows us to standardize on one customer-based device to deliver a wide range of business services.”

“Although many people see broadband as a vehicle to deliver entertainment, it is just as important to realise the benefits to healthcare and education that improved collaboration between people and real-time access to information can bring,” said Coks Stoffer, General Manager, Cisco Systems The Netherlands. “By helping to turn the vision of Almere Knowledge City, in close cooperation with UNET, into reality, we can actually see the improvements to health, learning and public safety in the city.”

Almere, built on reclaimed land in 1975, is the fastest growing city in Europe with over 5,000 new residents moving there each year. The local government established a public-private partnership to build an optical fibre, equal access network for the city in 2002. With the vision to create the Almere Knowledge City, the Almere Fibre project has helped the city to boost economic development by making the most advanced broadband services available to residents and businesses. Almere also has one of the highest levels of broadband penetration in Europe with 80 to 85 percent of the population having a broadband connection.

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