US WEST will install a "bulletproof" telecommunications system for the 2002 Winter Games, says Mark Stewart, executive director of Olympic programs for the Colorado-based company.

It will be a high-capacity system and will include burying a fiber optic line from Snowbasin Ski Resort to Park City, 100 miles through Morgan and Coalville, Stewart said.US WEST is one of the sponsors for the 2002 Olympics, and the exclusive telecommunications provider. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee hopes sponsors will provide a quarter of its $1 billion budget.

Much of US WEST's contribution will be in-kind, since SLOC needs telecommunications equipment, cellular phones and access to fiber optic systems.

The new systems "will have virtually unlimited capacity. We'll have backup phones and backup sites and other redundancies. It will be the most protected, fastest system available," he said.

Because of the Olympics, US WEST will bring its Access 2 PCS wireless service to northern Utah years ahead of schedule. Without the Games, the new technology wouldn't have arrived as soon and wouldn't be as expansive.

"It's a huge investment; at least $35 million just to cover the Olympics," Stewart said. "We're putting in technology that normally doesn't have to get put in."

"When it's over, there's going to be something left behind, something we Utahns can use in our day-to-day lives," Stewart said. "It could attract companies with very, very huge telecommunications requirements to move to such areas as Huntsville or Morgan. It also will give you a lot of room for growth."