Sprint preps 'government-grade' net

Sprint's Government Systems Division is readying a new "government-grade" intranet built on Sprint's own IP backbone, with no connection to the public Internet.

Sprint will announce the intranet today at the General Services Administration's Network Services Conference in Orlando, Fla., and will have the system ready for agencies to use by June, said Sprint spokesman Steve Lunceford.

The intranet will use dedicated routers to send traffic over Sprint's own proprietary network with no hand-offs to other carriers, Lunceford said. Sprint will provide the "local loop" at agency headquarters and field offices, so intranet traffic is isolated at every step from the Internet.

"We believe that we are the first to offer this type of solution," Lunceford said. "We're basically replicating the network that we're known for. We already have people in place that understand that network and can manage the network."

The move is cheap for Sprint because it has already built the network. "It doesn't require large capital expenditures to do this. That's why it may be difficult for competitors to do it quickly," he said.

Sprint developed the solution after several government customers inquired whether such a thing was possible, Lunceford said.

Whether or not Sprint has truly seized a technological innovation, it certainly has picked the marketing sweet spot, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc.

"Most agencies these days that are looking at their next-generation networks are looking for IP networks, are looking for security, are looking for high-bandwidth, direct connections, and that's what Sprint's offering here," he said. "It's aimed squarely at the center of the target."

Telecom industry analyst Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects Inc., said Sprint has turned a case-by-case requirement into a standard offering.

"Most of the offerings have been delivered to spec. When the government puts out a [request for proposal], they say this is the level they want. Most of the time companies have to do something special to deliver that," he said. "Sprint is saying OK, we're going to make this a standard offering. That's the real key to this whole thing."

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