BROADBAND GOES TO THE MALLS

NEW YORK — American Eagle Outfitters is getting wired up.
The hot specialty chain is participating in a program that will wire its 538 mall-based stores via a broadband extranet shared by other retailers. But the Warrendale, Pa.-based American Eagle is the first of many specialty stores with a strong Internet presence to announce this intention. The extranet carries data, sound and video to retail headquarters, partners and customers.
Six major U.S. mall operators have agreed to provide this service to tenants in exchange for a cut of online sales. This is seen as a way of preventing an eventual competitor from offering an alternative that cuts mall operators out of the picture entirely.
The system, which involves wiring the malls with T1 digital lines, permits secure managed network services, secure access to the Internet, voice-over IP, and redundant wide area network infrastructure that can connect retailers with their home offices, business partners and customers.
Ken Watts, vice president and chief information officer, American Eagle Outfitters, said, “The network gives us the ability of timely access to corporate information [such as inventory] and the ability to have a strong foundation that allows us to increase bandwidth on demand.”
The tenant extranet was developed and is being installed by MerchantWired, Indianapolis, using technology supplied by Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif., IBM, Armonk, N.Y., and Intermedia Communications, Tampa, Fla.

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