PARIS, Jan. 19 -- France Telecom has been awarded a contract to design and deploy an intranet linking 16 French government sites with a total of 450,000 potential users. The project is being overseen by MTIC, an interministerial agency responsible for supporting the development of information and communications technologies for government use. In the Paris region, France Telecom has installed a backbone for the government's general secretariat using a dedicated 622-Mb/s synchronous digital hierarchy fiber optic loop. The backbone, which is linked directly to a France Telecom technical platform, performs concentration of data flows from all French ministries, based on France Telecom's SMHD high-speed multisite service solution. Outside of Paris, sites will be linked using a Frame Relay access. Data flows will also be concentrated on the fiber optic loop.