Alaska set to bolster telecom
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Nov 28, 2001
Alaska's Telecommunications Partnering Plan
Following a 15-month-long process, Alaska is poised to award a multimillion-dollar
contract that will significantly upgrade the state's communications infrastructure
and bolster network security.
Barring any significant issues raised by other vendors, Anchorage-based
Alaska Communications Systems Group Inc. (ACS) would get the five-year contract
worth about $18.5 million annually, said Larry Walsh, director of Alaska's
Information Technology Group.
"I think for Alaska, because of our geography and number of citizens
that live in locations that are off the beaten path, telecommunications
is probably more important than maybe in other locations," he said.
Alaska (www.state.ak.us) acting as an "anchor
tenant" will result in an improved telecommunications infrastructure for
state offices in "bush" regions, Walsh said, adding that the upgrades will
help underserved areas and will address rural connectivity.
Under terms of the contract, state benefits include:
* Flexibility to "leapfrog" to state-of-the-art technology, including
a converged voice, data and video network.
* Enhanced videoconferencing.
* Improved bandwidth for state offices throughout urban and rural regions.
* Better statewide mobile communications, including wireless phone and
satellite phone services.
* Reduced long-distance toll costs within the state.
* Vendor maintenance of the 231 state-owned microwave and satellite
Earth stations that are used for emergency communications and broadcast
TV and radio services.
* Enhanced network security to prevent hacker attacks. Walsh said security
has become a major issue for Alaska especially after increased network intrusions,
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and several damaging computer viruses and
worms that circulated this year.
"I think we recognize how important the Internet is and the connectivity
and how much those kind of performance issues can impact our ability to
serve and deliver our mission," Walsh said.
State officials estimate the state likely will save nearly $13 million
in operating costs during the five-year period. Additionally, ACS will provide
another $29 million in capital investments to the state's telecommunications
The University of Alaska, the state legislature and the courts are participating
in the upgrade to some degree. And Walsh said local municipalities have
the option to join down the road, receiving benefits such as discount toll
rates and lower costs.
The state, which issued its request for proposals in August 2000, announced
its notice of intent to award the contract to ACS Nov. 15. Vendors have
until Dec. 7 to file a protest.