The five-year programme could see C&W's revenues in Europe burgeoning from about pounds 100m a year now to well over pounds 1bn early next century.
In the first phase C&W is spending about pounds 120m to acquire enough capacity on existing transmission and fibre-optic networks to provide a voice, Internet and data network linking 28 cities, including Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Geneva and Madrid.
C&W intends to start new operations in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf to serve the German market. The expansion will create 1,000 jobs, although the vast bulk of these will be in continental Europe.
The decision to roll out its own network follows the collapse of the planned alliance between C&W and Telecom Italia. Stephen Pettit, executive director of global business at C&W, did not rule out an eventual link with a strategic partner, but he said any partner would have to add value to the C&W network.
C&W will target the network at business customers, such as large multinationals, and is launching its first pan-European advertising campaign.
Mr Pettit said the aim was to double revenues each year for the next few years. If C&W achieves this, sales could reach pounds 3bn by 2004. BT has set itself a target of generating pounds 4bn of revenue from Europe by 2007.
Europe is the second-biggest telecoms market in the world, valued at about pounds 100bn a year.Reuse content