Internet access available on MAS

Federal agencies now have an easy way to buy Internet services.

BBN Planet, MCI, STMS, BTG Inc. and Erol's late last month became the first companies to offer basic Internet services on the General Services Administration's Schedule E. AT&T and Netcom Communications have proposals pending before GSA.

The new Internet services section of Schedule E offers agencies one-stop shopping for the products and services needed for electronic commerce, said GSA specialist Joanne Viola. These contracts "should satisfy most technical requirements of federal agencies," she said.

Agencies seem interested in the new buying vehicle.

"I'm really pleased to hear about it," said Eliot Christian, chief of data and information management at the U.S. Geological Survey. Before, everything had to "be acquired off of separate mechanisms...even to set up one-time Internet connections for a conference."

However, Ron Hack, director of office systems and telecommunications management at the Commerce Department, said there are many other ways for agencies to buy Internet access. "I welcome it, but this is a little late," he said.

Industry Reaction Good

Vendors were unanimously positive about government demand for Internet services.

"When I've mentioned [the new Schedule E Internet listings] to a few [agency] telecommunications chiefs, they were very enthusiastic about it," said Rick Slifer, director of FTS 2000 programs for MCI. With the GSA schedule, agencies "don't have to spend their own resources negotiating." More agencies are using the Internet's World Wide Web to distribute information to citizens. While many agencies have Internet gateways at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., demand is growing for additional servers and access at field sites.

The type of network in greatest demand among agencies is a T-1 (1.54 megabit/sec) line connection, said Jim Handy of AT&T Government Markets. "There aren't many people interested in 56K lines" anymore, he said. Vendors are planning to offer agencies a range of Internet connections, from 64 kilobit/sec to 10 megabit/sec as well as Web site design and management and other services.

"We're hoping to offer everything that we've offered to the commercial world to the government," said LeeAnn Levesque, senior sales executive of BBN Planet. "A lot of those same applications and ideas apply."

GSA is reviewing AT&T's application for Schedule E.

Netcom has applied to be on the schedule through Government Technology Services Inc. Netcom projects about $1 million in Net business over the next year through Schedule E.

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