FAA keeps telecom partner
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Jun 19, 2000
The Federal Aviation Administration announced plans to extend its contract
with WorldCom Inc. (formerly MCI WorldCom) to operate the telecommunications
network that carries the most critical data in the nation's air traffic
The services provided by WorldCom on the Leased Interfacility National
Airspace System Communication System (LINCS) will become part of the consolidated
telecommunications program, a future $2 billion contract called the FAATelecommunications
But the FAA's existing contract with WorldCom for LINCS expires in March
2002, well before the agency expects to have its new program fully implemented,
said Steve Dash, FAA acquisition manager for telecommunications.
Meanwhile, the FAA will issue WorldCom a sole-source contract worth
up to $500 million to provide services until as late as 2007. The FAA is
planning to award FTI in June 2001 but will implement it over several years,
Extending FAA's contract with WorldCom for LINCS has "long been the
strategy" to bridge the gap between the two contracts without losing services
on a critical network, Dash said.
LINCS provides connectivity to all National Airspace System facilities,
including air traffic control towers. WorldCom also is providing FAA certain
long-distance telephone services, dedicated transmission services, calling
card services, toll-free number services and other telecommunications through
the FTS 2001 contract being implemented at the Transportation Department.
WorldCom, Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management and Harris Corp. all
plan to compete for the FTI contract.
Telecommunications analyst Warren Suss said he sees the bridge contract
with MCI as a backup if there are delays in the contract or transition period
"I don't think there has been a single major government network where
the government hasn't issued a bridge contract to cover their contingencies,"
Suss said. "It doesn't commit them to spending that much money. It doesn't
commit them to that much time."