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Cisco wins $280 million fiber-optics contract

San Jose, Calif. -- Cisco Systems Inc., the No. 1 maker of Internet equipment, won a $280 million contract to supply Cogent Communications with fiber-optic gear and routers to link 12 U.S. cities on a new data network.

Cogent, a closely held telecommunications company based in Washington, is buying equipment that operates at the fastest speeds now available for optical networks. Cisco, which is financing the purchase, expects to begin shipping the products later this year.Cisco has spent $9.8 billion in the past six months to acquire makers of fiber-optic equipment and enter a fast-growing market now dominated by Nortel Networks Corp., Lucent Technologies Inc. and Alcatel SA. The contract with Cogent is its biggest for optical-networking equipment and also includes Cisco's most powerful data-traffic routers.

Cogent is building a network to carry data traffic only. It plans to sell its services to companies in selected buildings in cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and San Jose, Calif.