Pentagon taps GTE for telecom pact

GTE Government Systems last week won a 10-year, $110 million contract to upgrade the telecommunications system at the Pentagon, providing the Defense Department headquarters with advanced, wideband multimedia technology to manage land, sea and air forces worldwide.

Col. Scipio deKanter, the Army's Communications-Electronics Command program manager for the Pentagon Information Management and Telecommunications project, said the GTE award will provide workers in the famed five-sided building with ''a telecommunications infrastructure for the 21st century.'' DeKanter said the contract, through technology refreshment, will serve Pentagon officials for ''the next 50 years.''

The GTE contract represents the first time since the building opened in 1943 that DOD has awarded a contract to completely renovate the telecommunications systems at the Pentagon. For more than 50 years the Pentagon has adopted new technologies by installing them on a piecemeal basis.

GTE portrayed the work it will perform under the contract, now referred to as the Above-Ground Telecommunications Backbone (ATB), as almost unparalleled in scope for a system designed to serve a single building. GTE said the contract will require it to replace more than 100,000 miles of cabling in the building and install new systems to support the voice, data and video requirements of 24,000 users.

GTE said this will include the installation of 135,000 separate service "drops"— specifically, wall jacks for phones or computers— throughout the five above-ground floors of the building.

According to deKanter, GTE will install a high-speed Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) backbone that will serve as the heart of the network. He also said additional studies will determine whether ATM service will extend to the desktop.

The ATB will be installed in sequence with the physical rehabilitation of the building that is now under way by the Army Corps of Engineers and civilian contractors, with the construction performed in pie-shaped segments. Each of those wedges will be completely gutted, and a totally new infrastructure, including telecommunications, will be installed, deKanter said. He added that until all five wedges are done, ''we will be operating parallel old and new systems.''

GTE said its main equipment suppliers for the project are Fore Systems Inc. and Cabletron Systems Inc. Thomas Muldoon, president of GTE Government Systems, called the Pentagon contract ''one of the most important information and telecommunications projects in the world, and we intend to make it the model for large-scale systems of the future.''

Losing bidders on the contract include Boeing Information Systems Inc. teamed with Bell Atlantic, Lucent Technologies and Harris Corp.

A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment on the award. A Lucent spokeswoman said the company was ''disappointed.'' A Harris spokesman did not return calls by press time.

*****

AT A GLANCE

Above-Ground Telecommunications Backbone

- First complete telecommunications system renovation since the Pentagon opened in 1943.

- More than 100,000 miles of cable will be replaced.

- New systems will support voice, data and video for 24,000 users.

- Includes 135,000 separate service drops— specifically, jacks for phones or computers.

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