Networx Enterprise awards set stage for transition

With both the Enterprise and Universal portions awarded, agencies can begin plotting their future telecommunications strategies.

The General Services Administration has selected five vendors to provide agencies with specialized and localized telecommunications services under the Networx Enterprise program.

GSA awarded contracts to all the Enterprise bidders, which include the three winners of Networx Universal contracts -- AT&T, Verizon Communications and Qwest Government Services. Sprint Solutions, which had bid unsuccessfully on Universal, also won a place on Enterprise, as did Level 3 Communications, which had not bid on Universal.

John Johnson, assistant commissioner for integrated technology service at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said despite Sprint's loss on Universal, the company's Enterprise bid warranted the contract award.

“They bid aggressively, and they addressed the government’s requirements thoroughly," he said.

Johnson noted that three companies are on both contracts simply because there are fewer companies now than when GSA began developing the Networx program. A series of mergers and acquistions turned Verizon and MCI into one company and AT&T and SBC into another. AT&T also acquired Cingular wireless, and Sprint bought Nextel.

The Networx program is GSA’s successor to its FTS 2001 contracts, which are nearing expiration. Agencies will have about two years to move their services from the old contract vehicle to the new one.

Networx  has a maximum lifespan of 10 years and an estimated value of about $20 billion, according to GSA. It covers voice, IP, wireless, satellite and IP-centric services. Through the contract program, GSA plans to move the federal government away from older communications technologies and into new networks based on IP and multiprotocol label-switching systems.

“With this award and other recent awards, we’re bringing our customers the full range of options for telecommunication services available,” said Jim Williams, GSA’s FAS commissioner.

Networx Universal includes 37 mandatory services and 11 optional ones, and it requires providers to be able to provide the services to federal offices worldwide. Networx Enterprise, intended as a vehicle for more specialized and localized services, has only 10 mandatory services but includes specifications for 42 more optional offerings.

Michael Hardy is a staff writer with Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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