Comsat signs $60 million federal satellite deal

The General Services Administration on Monday tagged Comsat Corp. for a

wide array of satellite communications services that GSA plans to make available

to all federal agencies.

The six-year, $60 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract

covers COMSAT's commercial fixed and mobile satellite services available

over both the INTELSAT and International Maritime Satellite (Inmarsat) Communications

Organization satellite systems. The agreement also allows the listing of

new offerings when they become available, such as COMSAT Mobile ISDN and

COMSAT Mobile IP, which are 64 kilobits/sec data and voice services for

land mobile customers.

News of the contract comes as Iridium LLC prepares to de-orbit its fleet of

self-named satellites, which it was unable to sell.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in August, terminated

service Friday.

The Defense Department relies on Inmarsat services for a wide range of communications

needs. However, a DOD spokeswoman said no decision has been made on what

future services the DOD will seek.

The GSA deal is not the first for Bethesda, M.D.-based Comsat. The company

won a $112 million contract last June to provide the Navy with the global

communications circuits vital to the service's "network-centric" warfare

strategy. The five-year contract called for COMSAT's Mobile Corp. subsidiary

to provide the Navy with 64-kilobits/sec pipes on Inmarsat satellites for

service to ships in deployed battle groups and amphibious ready groups.

Comsat declined to comment on the deal. However, an industry source familiar

with both Comsat and Iridium services said the turbulence in the satellite

communications industry is a concern to all competitors. "With the loss

of one competitor, there may be business to be gained [for others, such

as Comsat]," the source said. "But it is very unclear at this time."

But while Iridium had offered mostly voice services, industry sources said

Comsat is moving very strongly toward offering the full-range of data services

over their geostationary satellites.

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