Plans set for DOD fiber-optic network

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Officials from the Defense Department and Global Crossing Government Markets are expected to meet this week to hammer out a program schedule, following the award of a networking contract to the company that could reach $400 million.

The selection of Global Crossing Government Markets, a unit of Global Crossing Ltd., for the project was announced July 9. The deal calls for the company to provide one of the world's largest fiber-optic networks, linking more than 6,000 scientists and engineers at Defense laboratories, test centers, universities and industry sites.

The contract offers advanced wide-area network services for the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN), the military's prime long-haul communications service provider for the High Performance Computing Modernization Program.

"I suspect the first thing we'll do is to put into operation a network operations center here in the D.C. area that will manage all this," said Paul Kayatta, company president. "We have to meet with the program office to understand their priorities and build that schedule."

"The Office of the Secretary of Defense is investing a significant amount of funding in high performance computing to provide the United States military with a technological advantage to support warfighting requirements," said Rodger Johnson, the Pentagon's DREN program manager.

Global Crossing will design, develop and manage a secure virtual private network, enabling users to communicate and collaborate throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and other territories. Asia Global Crossing will provide connectivity in the Asia- Pacific region.

The award is a three-year, $137 million contract with seven one-year options. If all options are exercised, the value of the contract could reach $400 million. Kayatta said the contract is especially attractive because the Pentagon chose Global Crossing as the sole source of products and services, rather than a conglomerate of companies.

"What's nice about this is that single awards are infrequent in this market, and this is a single award," he said. "What they acquire, they acquire from us, and that's a good thing."

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