DOT chooses MCI for FTS 2001

The Transportation Department last week announced that it had selected MCI WorldCom to provide voice, data and Internet services through its FTS 2001 contract with the General Services Administration.

An MCI spokesman estimated the award's value at up to $160 million over the eight years of the contract. The deal will cover the entire department, including the Federal Aviation Administration, except for the Coast Guard's X.25 packet-switching network.

MCI WorldCom Government Markets already holds the FAA's Leased Interfacility National Airspace Communications System contract for highly reliable communications for air traffic controllers and other FAA employees.

Mike Serbousek, executive director for FAA programs at MCI, said the company's work on LINCS played an important role in DOT's decision. "We've built a strong track record of providing highly reliable mission-critical systems with the FAA, and DOT recognizes that," Serbousek said. "Through our relationship with the FAA, DOT has seen firsthand our ability to provide seamless transitions and a commitment to a very high level of customer service."

Eugene Taylor, acting chief information officer at DOT, said the choice between MCI and Sprint, the other FTS 2001 contractor, was a difficult one. But he said the selection was based mainly on pricing and the company's ability to offer service to the agency's remote facilities.

"We chose MCI because the pricing was better and they had more points of presence," Taylor said. "And we do have a relationship with MCI, and their past performance has been good."

Taylor said the department already had begun moving the Coast Guard's X.25 service onto Sprint's FTS 2000 network before the FTS 2001 contracts were awarded. He said the Coast Guard could not afford to wait to move the service onto FTS 2001 because of Year 2000 problems with AT&T's X.25 service.

MCI won the FTS 2001 contract in January, and agencies have since been choosing between MCI and Sprint. So far, the departments of Agriculture, Defense and Interior also have selected MCI. These departments and DOT are using AT&T as their service provider under the GSA FTS 2000 contract.

Elsewhere, the Justice Department this month selected Sprint as its FTS 2001 vendor. Because DOJ is Sprint's largest customer on the FTS 2000 contract, even officials from MCI conceded they had expected the department to select Sprint. The company will provide voice and data services, a Sprint spokesman said.

"We have worked hand in hand with the Department of Justice for years to meet their immediate and long-term needs," the spokesman said. "We look at this as a ringing endorsement of our existing service to them and our vision of where we will be able to take them in the future."

Late last month, the Education Department chose Sprint to provide audio conferencing service and phone card service. The Treasury Department selected Sprint as its FTS 2001 vendor in January, and the company also will provide voice and data service to the Department of Veterans Affairs and to 20 smaller agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Federal Election Commission.

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