IBM Global Services has been shopping around ISPs in the UK to discuss bandwidth to service a huge potential server farm in Portsmouth or London's South Bank.
The vendor refused to make an official comment, but one IBM insider confirmed to PC Week that plans were in the pipeline to build huge Web facilities in Europe to boost capacity for strategic outsourcing.
IBM wants to replicate the scale of the company's enormous server farms in Illinois, Maryland and Ohio, which were used for hosting the Wimbledon Web site. This boasted a record 942 million hits over the two week period of the tournament.
Three of the largest UK Internet service providers - Psinet, GX networks and Uunet - were all approached by IBM last week.
One ISP said that IBM had been enquiring about the cost of a 34Mbps leased line, the yearly cost of which he estimated at £500,000.
IBM's bandwidth shopping could affect its relationship with AT&T. In November, AT&T bought IBM Global Network, its private data and communications system, for $5 billion (£3.2 billion).
Both companies made outsourcing commitments: IBM said it would outsource a large part of its global networking requirement to AT&T, worth about $5 billion (£3.2 billion), while AT&T would outsource much of its data centre activities to IBM, estimated value $4 billion (£2.4 billion).
Because of those commitments, the ISPs were surprised to be asked to tender for the IBM bandwidth. But one source pointed out that AT&T's coverage in the UK is pretty limited and that the telecoms giant was relying on third party carriers, such as Psinet.
IBM announced its plans last month to get into applications hosting for the SME market, although at the time the company said it would use its existing server farms at Portsmouth, Warwick and Dublin.
But early indications were that any huge server farm would be used for strategic outsourcing to big business, such as banks, because IBM has reportedly ruled out renting space at shared premises such as Telehouse, for security reasons.
For more stories see this week's issue of PC Week UK
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago