DOJ taps Bell Atlantic for new ATM service

Bell Atlantic Corp. last week said the Justice Department is the company's first federal customer to take advantage of its new tariffed Asynchronous Transfer Mode service.

The Federal Communications Commission approved Bell Atlantic's ATM tariff in early June while DOJ was installing an ATM campuswide network in the Washington D.C. area. Telecommunications officials at DOJ had been working with Bell Atlantic since they began ATM pilot tests more than a year ago but they decided to take advantage of the company's tariff prices as they expanded the network to encompass 30 DOJ sites.

George Mather a senior engineer with Bell Atlantic Federal Systems said the tariff will save money for the agency through lower rates while offering an easier procurement method. "We've come through with some of the most aggressive pricing for ATM in the industry " Mather said. "And it's easy for the government agencies to buy off because it helps to eliminate going through formal solicitations."

Depending on the types of services and the transmission speeds required by customers Bell Atlantic can generally provide an ATM link at rates priced from $1 900 to $3 600 per month Mather said. He said some DOJ locations may end up paying close to $4 000 per month for ATM service but he added that the cost is not as high as it appears.

"If you consider that in a lot of cases a point-to-point T-1 [1.5 megabits per second] circuit can run up to $1 000 a month and I'm charging $3 500 for 155 megabits per second you're really talking about a quantum leap in capability without a huge leap in cost " he said.

Ed Johnson assistant director of telecommunications for operations at DOJ said the deal with Bell Atlantic also allowed the department to exploit existing telecom facilities in the area and save DOJ the hassle of developing its own ATM infrastructure. "I just didn't see the Department of Justice's business as building a telecommunications infrastructure " he said. "Our job in the telecom division is to support our main mission - law enforcement and protection."

The network will support a variety of applications Johnson said. For example it will give personnel at the Drug Enforcement Administration access to criminal databases and provide access to the FBI's National Crime Information Center he said. It also will support a variety of video broadcast and intranet applications.

Johnson said the department has about 10 sites connected via Bell Atlantic's ATM backbone and will connect 20 additional locations by the end of fiscal 1998. He said DOJ is using Fore Systems Inc. ForeRunner ASX-200 switches to tie into the ATM backbone with edge devices provided by Fore Cisco Systems Inc. Bay Networks Inc. and 3Com Corp.

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