Alltel Corp. has created a division to cash in on an emerging business practice called network consulting.

Network consulting entails the design, installation, and management of all types of networks - Internet, Intranet, local area, and wide area - and the management of large-scale applications such as call centers.

"For many years, we have provided network services for a number of our customers," said William L. Cravens, president of Alltel Information Services Inc. With the massive systems consolidations under way in banking, the specialty now represents a "tremendous growth opportunity," he said.

The new business unit of the Little Rock computer services company is called Enterprise Network Services. The company will devote 100 employees to staff the unit, which will be headed by Cynthia J. Comparin. She will report to Mr. Cravens.

Dennis Holland, a vice president at Alltel, said the company hired Input Inc., a high-tech market research firm in Mountain View, Calif., to help it assess the business potential of network consulting.

Input said the network services market will grow at a 35% compound annual rate to $42 billion in 2000.

Input also saw the banking part of the market growing at 27% annually, from a current value of about $2.5 billion.

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