Bell Atlantic gets jump on Pentagon overhaul

While the Defense Department evaluates finals bids on the long-awaited contract to provide the above-ground communications infrastructure for the Pentagon renovation project, Bell Atlantic Federal Systems has been working for months on the new infrastructure in the basement and mezzanine levels of the partially refurbished building.

The company has been performing the work as part of its $600 million Telecommunications Modernization Project (Tempo) contract, which provides local telecommunications services to workers in the Pentagon and other DOD locations in the Washington, D.C., area.

Dan Everett, Bell Atlantic's program manager for the Pentagon renovation, estimated the value of the work done on the renovation at about $70 million.

Everett said the project started in 1995 as a group of task orders asking the company to establish four "swing spaces"— eventually reduced to three— that would accommodate Pentagon employees who have been displaced during the renovation. As workers renovate various sections of the Pentagon, the employees who work in those sections have been moved to swing spaces in Rosslyn, Va., and Crystal City, Va., until that part of the renovation has been completed.At about the same time, the company also received task orders to install equipment and circuits in sections of the basement and mezzanine levels of the newly renovated Pentagon.

Bell Atlantic provided the switches and circuits necessary to allow displaced employees to continue their work as though they were still at the Pentagon, Everett said. The company has installed 150 Cisco Systems Inc. 5500 switches to connect the swing spaces to the Pentagon backbone network.

The Cisco equipment also has been installed in the wire closets in the newly renovated parts of the basement and mezzanine levels of the Pentagon. Most of the department's command and control operations, notably the Air Force Operations Group, will be housed in these areas of the building, Everett said. The department's Tri-Care Clinic also will be located in the new space.

Everett said the backbone network will be installed at the new office space by July, at which time he expects tenants to begin moving in.

A Bell Atlantic source who requested anonymity said the company initially tried a solution using switches and equipment from Xylan and Fore Systems Inc. But when tests revealed interoperability problems between the local-area network and Asynchronous Transfer Mode backbone, Bell Atlantic and DOD agreed on a total Cisco solution, the source said.

Jim Massa, director of Cisco's federal operations, said the decision to focus on a Cisco end-to-end solution will keep Bell Atlantic and DOD from having to grapple with basic interoperability issues. "The empirical data is showing that the single-vendor solution is better," Massa said. "They don't want to have to worry about interoperability between devices."Donald Summerville, director of federal systems at Bell Atlantic, said the company also is installing an AT&T 5ESS switch as an optical remote module to the main switch at the Pentagon. The 5ESS was purchased under Tempo for the purpose of the Pentagon renovation project, but it ultimately will serve as the building's main switch as the renovation progresses and more services are migrated onto the switch.

Bell Atlantic officials are hopeful that their work on the renovation so far will place them in an advantageous position to win the above-ground telecom Pentagon Renovation contract, which could be awarded as early as this month. "We would like to believe that what we are doing will initiate additional business," Everett said, adding that DOD may use Tempo for work on other sections of the basement that have not yet been renovated.

DOD officials could not be reached for comment on the Tempo contract or the Pentagon renovation project.

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