WorldCom looking past FTS 2001

WorldCom Inc. has completed about 85 percent of its projects on the FTS 2001 contract and is anxious to finish the remaining deals in order to help agencies extend their capabilities beyond traditional networking services.

The company's remaining FTS 2001 work is largely for agencies that were late getting into the game, said Jerry Edgerton, senior vice president of WorldCom Government Markets.

"Some agencies were late in getting their orders into the process, but they are now true believers, especially with the bridge contract pricing," he said at the company's 2001 Executive Forum in Ashburn, Va., Wednesday.

Edgerton said many agencies are at different stages of implementation, depending on their mandates. He noted that the Agriculture Department's need to put all of its forms online is one project that could benefit by including networks and Web hosting.

"The USDA could leapfrog from just doing electronic forms to offering a full range of services online," Edgerton said.

To aid that effort, WorldCom unveiled a suite of global Internet Protocol network services at the forum. Edgerton said those new initiatives will also help federal agencies, such as the General Services Administration, move beyond traditional bricks-and-mortar services.

"We have an anxious and willing partner in the GSA moving beyond bricks-and-mortar to clicks-and-mortar," he said. "The pressure is on us to come up with more services and capabilities based on our customers, their needs and timing."

Another initiative being touted at the WorldCom forum was the concept of voice portals, which would enable a user to "search the Internet in plain language" through a wireless phone, said Fred Briggs, WorldCom's chief technology officer. That technology should be available by the second quarter of this year.

Diana Gowen, vice president of government markets, said WorldCom is "absolutely" working on incorporating voice portals into its government offerings. "The GSA's advanced technology team is really pushing us on this." Edgerton said that the incoming Bush administration should not have much effect on WorldCom's government business. "I expect to see consistency at the contract level," he said. "Our services are not affected by policy. They are essential. They save money and they provide a platform to go into the future."

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