Alaska seeking telecom partner

Alaska is looking for an industry partner to maintain and expand its statewide

telecommunications system.

Bids are due Nov. 3, according to Andy Kline, with the state's Information

Technology Group.

State officials expect industry players will form teams to compete for

the six-year, value-based contract, Kline said. Rough estimates show state

government spending to be about $20 million per year on telephone service

and network connections, but officials are still calculating the potential

value of the new contract, he said.

Under the new contract, Alaska will streamline the piecemeal approach

of issuing contracts to different vendors and servicing part of the system

itself.

"Our infrastructure is in good shape. Companies are basically impressed

with our system. But if we don't start actively partnering, we may start

falling behind. We want to make sure we stay where we are, which is pretty

leading-edge" when it comes to providing services, Kline said.

The winning contractor will provide long-distance service, distance-learning

services, satellite communications and Internet access to all state departments.

A major goal is to increase connections to remote, rural areas.

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