Air Force picks Sprint

The Air Force has awarded a tactical communications contract worth about $5 million a year to Sprint to provide telecom services for at least two Air Force bases in southwest Asia.

Sprint will be in charge of commercial transmission systems, satellite and microwave lines, PBX-based voice switching, Internet data routing and other common telecom functions, said Tony D'Agata, vice president and general manager for Sprint's Government Systems Division.

"In effect, we become the telephone company for the Air Force," D'Agata said. "We're able to free up the troops to work on mission critical issues and activities and in some instances allow them to return home after a long war effort."

The Air Force is not disclosing the exact value or the duration of the contract.

Sprint, D'Agata said, was the first U.S. commercial contractor to fully take over tactical voice and data communications in an operations theater after a military conflict, which it did in Bosnia. The experience helped the company win the new contract.

Sprint started work under the contract in early July, D'Agata said.

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