Sprint seizing local opportunities

Sprint is the latest company to try to extend its federal expertise into

the state and local government markets, with the aim of profiting from future

opportunities created by growing homeland security and e-government requirements.

Those requirements will demand new levels of connectivity, security

and network assurance, Sprint executives believe, and the company has supplied

such services to state and local governments through its regional and local

sales forces. However, homeland security funding will start at the federal

level and work its way down to the local level, said Cathy Clements, Sprint's

regional vice president of sales.

"Some federal agencies are even now trying to figure out for themselves

how they can reach out and connect with the states to get access to their

servers, and vice versa," she said. "We think we can show them ways of doing

that without having to replicate data and so on."

Progress on federal e-government initiatives also create opportunities

for Sprint's national network and Web-hosting services, Clements said.

Sprint's activities in the state and local markets will be handled by

a national sales force that will offer governments more resources in the

future, she said.

"That's coming together as we speak," she said. By mid-October, "a team

dedicated to state sales should be staffed and running. Eventually, we'd

like to see more of a packaged approach to state and federal connectivity,

but that will take some time to pull together."

This melding of federal and state sales is "certainly the wave of the

future," said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc.

"The old model [for telecommunications companies] was to have state

and local government requirements handled through the same sales force that

services residential and business customers in the same geographical area,"

he said. "But those folks are not well-suited to sell to government."

The need for and capabilities of state and local services are growing

increasingly similar to those for federal customers, Suss said. So as the

need for more interaction between federal agencies and state and local governments

grows because of homeland security, "the synergy that bringing the sales

forces together can produce becomes increasingly obvious," he said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached

at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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