Morrisons is to quadruple its wide area network capacity after signing a three-year multimillion deal with Cable & Wireless.

The grocer is replacing another supplier with the roll-out of the network, which will connect all of its 430 UK sites to its corporate headquarters.

The network has been commissioned to allow for the roll-out of Oracle Retail applications that Morrisons is undertaking at present. In addition, the supermarket chain is expected to run a voice application over the new infrastructure to allow phone calls.

Cable & Wireless managing director for enterprise business Philip Grannum said that the company was still in discussions with Morrisons about whether the grocer will deploy its fixed mobile convergence technology. This would allow Morrisons staff to make mobile phone calls that run over its wide area network when they are at one of its sites.

Morrisons IT director Gary Barr said that the investment in the network was essential to the grocer’s growth plans and over time it would deliver real dividends. He added that Cable & Wireless had demonstrated that it could support Morrisons’ desire to streamline its processes and operations.

Morrisons will also use Cable & Wireless’s Application Performance Management suite. This will allow the grocer to see how much bandwidth is being used by different applications and optimise the bandwidth that is available for the most important ones. For instance, it will be able to reserve the majority of the network’s bandwidth for Oracle applications during trading hours.

Using compression technology, Morrisons will also be able to accelerate certain applications to reduce the amount of bandwidth required.

The roll-out of the network will begin this year, with a freeze over the Christmas period, and should be completed by April next year.

Morrisons is to automate its merchandising and space planning operations using a system from specialist supplier Galleria. The system will be used to create merchandise plans on a more refined level to ensure products are always available in the right quantity at the right time.