Sprint delivers turnkeyservices to Bosnia

Telecommunications companies usually can fulfill domestic Pentagon service contracts with the mere flip of a switch. Not so in Bosnia where to fulfill a contract to replace an Army tactical network with a commercial system Sprint had to build a self-contained switching and satellite earth station package stateside and then charter the world's largest aircraft to ship the gear to that former war-torn country.

"The Defense Department awarded us a service contract for Bosnia and Croatia and in order to fulfill that contract we first had to build the gear to provide the service in areas where no infrastructure exists...and we had to ship it " said Bill Brougham director of Sprint's Defense program office.

The company won a $36 million contract last October to install a turnkey commercial telecommunications system in Bosnia Croatia and Hungary to replace tactical systems installed and operated in the theater by the Army 5th Signal Command since December 1995.

At that time Brig. Gen. Robert Nabors commander of 5th Signal said he planned to replace the tactical systems in the theater with commercial technology as quickly as possible.

Brougham said Sprint had few problems in developing a commercial network for the Pentagon in Hungary - where the United States operates a base supporting troops in Bosnia - because the country has a relatively sophisticated terrestrial commercial communications infrastructure. But Brougham added due to the destruction caused by the war Sprint literally had to build an infrastructure in Bosnia and Croatia from the ground up.

The company built the equivalent of seven commercial regional switching centers each with its own satellite terminal and shipped them in a former Soviet Antonov-124 freighter - the largest aircraft flying today - to the theater.

"DOD gave us the order for these systems in January and in that time our suppliers and subcontractors integrated some 8 000 components into the roll-away shelters and trailers " Brougham said.

Lucent Technologies Inc. supplied the electronic switches while Commercial Satellite Systems Inc. provided the satellite earth terminals.

According to Brougham "this is the first time the Pentagon has ever contracted for turnkey service with a commercial provider to replace Army communications in the field."

Sprint will install the systems at seven Army base camps and installations in Bosnia and Croatia and will then manage the system "until the U.S. operation is finished. Since we own the equipment we could then remove it from Bosnia or if the Army chose leave it there " Brougham said.

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