Bell Atlantic grabs $1.4 billion federal telecom deal

The General Services Administration on Thursday tapped Bell Atlantic Federal for a whopping $1.4 billion telecommunications contract that will provide voice, data and video services to federal agencies in the Washington, D.C., area.

The Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS2001) contract, a follow-on contract to the WITS contract awarded in 1989, will provide local voice, data and video telecommunications services to federal agencies in and around the nation's capitol. With four base years and four one-year options, the eight-year deal also offers the possibility of adding long-distance services.

New services on the WITS2001 contract include Asynchronous Transfer Mode networking, switched multi-megabit data service, audio and video teleconferencing, and frame-relay data services. Through the WITS2001 World Wide Web site (www.wits2001.com), agencies will be able to find and order services, check their invoices and request technical support.

"This is a very different WITS," said Barbara Connor, president of Bell Atlantic Federal. "One of the things we're most pleased about is it gives us the opportunity to provide an integrated contract...with voice, data and video services."

The contract also includes management of government-owned networks that are used to deliver WITS services and a plan to transition ownership of those networks to the private sector. After the first year, GSA will be able to add services from contractors on the agency's FTS2001 long-distance contract or the metropolitan area acquisition contracts.

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