MCI wins $8M Army satcom pact for Kuwait

MCI Government Markets won an $8 million contract to provide advanced satellite communications services to the Army Central Command (ARCENT)-Kuwait. The system will provide ARCENT with secure voice, data, videoconferencing and facsimile services through high-speed satellite links.

MCI has installed a transportable earth station at Camp Doha, 20 miles north of Kuwait City. The contract has an option for four remote site extensions, which MCI plans to serve via a microwave system, according to Diana Gowen, director of Defense Department sales and marketing at MCI Government Markets.

Gowen said it was "very easy" for MCI to respond quickly to the competitive bid because the company has stored a transportable 9-meter earth station in Kuwait City since the end of the Persian Gulf War. MCI had used it to support a military calling center in Saudi Arabia during the war.

MCI will provide end-to-end service at speeds up to 1.5 megabit/sec (T-1) for the ARCENT service. Satellite circuits will come from the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization and terminate at an MCI earth station in Andover, Maine. From there, MCI will transmit the signals by land line to the ARCENT operations center, Fort Detrick, Md.

Gowen said MCI is providing ARCENT with a "total solution" based completely on off-the-shelf technology and services. "This is the kind of service we could provide to the Defense Information Systems Agency on the Defense Information Systems Network-OCONUS [outside the continental United States] contract," Gowen said. MCI won the contract in May and expects to start service on Aug. 23.

In a related development, IDB Mobile Communications said it has introduced high-speed secure telephone service over an International Maritime Communications Organization (Inmarsat) satellite for military and other government users.

Mary Alice Kovac, IDB's director of government services, said her company offers Secure Telephone Unit-III (STU-III) service over Inmarsat M at 4.8 kilobit/sec - double the speed of other STU-III Inmarsat services. Kovac said the higher data rate allows for clearer and crisper conversations.

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