Sprint to offer ATM to NASA on FTS 2000

ATLANTA—Apparently succeeding where its chief competitor failed, representatives from Sprint's Government Systems Division said last week they have negotiated a deal to offer Asynchronous Transfer Mode capability to NASA on the FTS 2000 network.

Intense negotiations between Sprint, the General Services Administration and NASA took place last week at a Sprint FTS 2000 users conference here.

Carl Stover, NASA's program manager for wide-area networks, confirmed last week that he was participating in negotiations to obtain ATM service from Sprint. NASA, a customer on AT&T's portion of FTS 2000, approached Sprint after a pilot project with AT&T proved unable to meet the agency's stringent reliability requirements, sources said.

Despite AT&T's loss of NASA as a potential ATM customer, the company last month announced its own modification to offer the service on FTS 2000, with the Naval Sea Systems Command slated as the initial user.

Diana Philbrick, senior federal program manager for FTS 2000 at Sprint, said her company initially hoped to add ATM to its FTS 2000 network on behalf of the Justice Department. She said GSA subsequently notified Sprint that NASA's pilot with AT&T failed and facilitated meetings between Sprint and NASA. Sprint tweaked its modification proposal to accommodate NASA's needs.

Mark Boster, DOJ's deputy assistant attorney general for information resources management, said users at his agency would probably participate in an ATM pilot on FTS 2000 within six to 12 months.

He said he views ATM as a key future technology to help the department consolidate its disparate networks. He also said he hopes Sprint could help DOJ users solve problems encountered in the agency's own rocky attempts to install an ATM metropolitan area network in Washington, D.C.

"We have learned that moving to ATM is not transparent," Boster said. "I think a pilot using a Sprint solution would be a valuable exercise for us."

Sprint Service Expected Next Week

Jim Payne, Sprint's assistant vice president for FTS 2000, believes Sprint will offer the service to agencies next week. "With Sprint, your access to ATM is as close as the Sprint point of presence nearest to your location," he said.

NASA's Stover said ATM will work as a key technology to help the agency consolidate networks and achieve savings demanded by NASA's leaders.

"ATM has major potential to allow us to make better use of bandwidth," he said. "We have increased requirements for reliability and availability, and the features of the Sprint network are exactly what we need."

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