MCI adds features to FTS 2001

At last week's GovTechNet International Conference and Exposition, MCI WorldCom Government Markets announced the first in a series of features it will add to its FTS 2001 telecommunications contract.

Chuck Brock, deputy director of MCI's FTS 2001 program office, said the modifications will provide greater flexibility to users of MCI's switched-voice, dedicated transmission and frame-relay services.

The company also announced rate reductions for its FTS 2001 56 kilobits/sec and 64 kilobits/sec frame-relay service and its toll-free interactive announcement feature, a voice-recognition system. But officials refused to specify the degree to which they would cut pricing for those services.

Brock said users of MCI's FTS 2001 network can expect more announcements of new features as work on the contract progresses. "These were the first," he said of last week's contract modifications. "One of the issues users had with the previous [FTS 2000] contract was the difficulty [of] adding services. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for end users to make modifications to their networks."

In the switched-voice area, MCI has added Point of Origin Routing to enable agencies to automatically direct calls made to a single number to different offices. An MCI spokesman said agencies have been clamoring for this capability because it could, for example, enable them to direct calls made to a number published nationwide to an office closest to where the call originated.

MCI also will offer its Outbound Network Manager service, an online system that enables customers to examine their network configuration and customize some voice features in near real time.

"For example, if an agency has a person who has left recently, they can use this feature to go in and turn off that person's calling card without calling MCI," Brock said.

Yet another switched-voice service modification, Network Call Redirect, would enable agencies to reroute calls to different locations during outages, busy times or when no one is available to handle calls.

MCI also is adding 19.2 kilobits/sec dedicated transmission service to complement its existing array of data speeds, Brock said. The service will meet the needs of users who want speeds greater than the existing 9.6 kilobits/sec service but who do not need to go as high as 56 kilobits/sec.

For frame relay, MCI is adding permanent virtual circuit speeds of 16, 32 and 48 committed information rates. CIRs are specified amounts of frame-relay bandwidth, measured in bits per second, guaranteed by the vendor.

Sprint, the other FTS 2001 vendor, is working on a similar set of modifications, according to a company spokesman. However, the spokesman said Sprint considers these changes "relatively small mods that are filling gaps between what is on the old contract and the new contract." Sprint is deciding which ones to pursue based on specific customer requirements, he said.

Sprint's focus, though, is a "much more significant mod, [which] the company hopes to announce soon, that will allow customers to have a lot more ability to manage their service," the spokesman said.

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