Qwest's big challengeI want to wish Jim Payne the best of luck in his new position as chief of the federal division at Qwest Communications International Inc. ["Payne leads fed Qwest," FCW, Aug. 23]. He indeed faces a challenge in light of a general federal telecommunications procurement policy that favors multibillion-dollar bundled contracts.

While FTS 2001 is ostensibly a nonmandatory-use contract, it does have $1.5 billion in GSA-assured minimum-revenue guarantees. Qwest will find itself in the unenviable position of not only selling against MCI WorldCom and Sprint but also against GSA, which acts as a sales agent for FTS 2001 contractors. Add to this the preference for civilian agencies to cling to FTS offerings rather than engage in the efforts required to obtain telecommunications services through the competitive market.

At the Defense Department, the environment is much the same. Requirements are bundled into multibillion-dollar DISN Transmission Service contracts...that can only be won by the "big three." Perhaps Qwest, with Payne in charge, can break into this exclusive club.

Meanwhile, the remaining large and small businesses in the telecommunications industry that hoped to benefit from the competition promised by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 are forced to sit on the sidelines of a market that is rendered inaccessible.

Craig BrooksPresident, Electra International TelecommunicationsBethesda, Md.***DOD's Y2K hypocrisyI am astonished at the hypocrisy of the Defense Department's attitude toward providing military support to state and local civilian authorities for Year 2000-related problems ["DOD: Face Y2K on your own," FCW, Aug. 23]. [In its editorial Aug. 30, FCW quotes the military oath] "to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre is quoted as emphasizing that the first priority for military units engaged in Year 2000 crisis management will be their basic mission of defending the nation. "As a basic principle, commanders will not compromise military readiness in providing support to civil authorities," he said.

I suggest that Year 2000 support to state and local civilian authorities comes a lot closer to the language and intent of the [oath] as a domestic enemy than our present deployment of "peacekeeping" troops all over the world. What does peacekeeping have to do with "their basic mission of defending the nation?" And military readiness has been compromised a whole lot more by peacekeeping missions than any military support to state and local authorities would.

K.C. Suhler5th ArmySan Antonio, Texas***Lining up for Linux Regarding Gerald Lazar's article "The dawning of Linux" [FCW, Aug. 23], I am writing as a sometimes Linux advocate (but not a current Linux user) to correct your statement that "the best thing" about Linux is that it is free. Not true: For the vast majority of users I know, the fact that it is so much more trouble-free than Windows is the best thing. A little bit of trouble is so much more expensive than any software purchase price.

Jeff LeveneAtlanta***In "The dawning of Linux," I take issue with your research. Third-party software vendors are porting to Linux right and left. Off the top of my head, Oracle, Corel, Novell and IBM come to mind. As far as nobody integrating their systems with Linux, Dell sells a machine with it installed. Other companies have embraced it, including Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM and Micron, just to name a few.Overall I liked the article, but I felt that these are old arguments against Linux.

Robert Thomas***Gerald Lazar responds: Yes, of course, software companies are porting to Linux. I mentioned two of them prominently, Corel Corp. and Computer Associates International Inc., in the article. But they are porting cautiously. And there are still many more applications for Windows than there are for Linux. The Linux applications market looks rather like the Macintosh market of the late 1980s/early 1990s. Yes, there are applications out there, but there are many more choices if you stick with Wintel. And I believe that software developers will continue to develop for Windows first for a long time to come.


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