Qwest wins big Arizona deal
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Feb 14, 2001
Arizona School Facilities Board
Qwest Communications was awarded a $100 million contract Feb. 1 to provide
a computer network infrastructure and Internet connectivity to Arizona public
By June 2003, the state hopes that every public school will have access
to 100 megabits/sec broadband access that can be expandable to 1 gigabit/sec.
Such access would enable school computers to support streaming video and
audio and other online resources, said Philip Geiger, executive director
of the Arizona School Facilities Board (SFB), which awarded the contract.
The state has 1,222 public elementary and secondary schools in 228 school
districts. Nearly 870,000 students may benefit.
The SFB oversees new school construction, capital improvements to schools,
repair of educational facilities and upgrading technology in schools.
Through a 1998 state-approved program called Students FIRST, which stands
for Fair and Immediate Resources for Students Today, the SFB helped school
districts purchase 45,000 computers at a cost of about $50 million last
year. That reduced the statewide ratio of students to computers to 8-to-1,
Geiger said. The SFB spent another $2.5 million to train teachers on using
Under the contract, Qwest also will provide technical training and three
years of maintenance. Cisco Systems Inc., a partner with Qwest, has agreed
to provide Cisco Academy at no cost to all state high schools, Geiger said.
The program trains high school students to become engineers.
In December, Qwest was awarded an $8 million contract from the Arizona
Government Information Technology Agency to help provide broadband access
to several dozen communities. That is part of a broader $100 million, five-year
initiative by the state to provide 87 communities with better telecommunications
services. Geiger said the two projects would especially benefit rural communities
and their schools.