DOD to take bids on Iraq telecom

Coalition Provisional Authority Web site

The Defense Department will soon solicit proposals for a two-year effort to build and manage Iraq's telecommunications infrastructure.

Several companies have already provided "regional connectivity" services to the region, said Linton Lewis II, DOD's principal deputy for the Defense chief information officer. In addition, the Defense Information Services Agency is seeking $50 million in direct support of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which is overseeing reconstruction of the country.

"The internal communications of CPA are insufficient, but improving," Lewis said. "There is some regional connectivity." Raytheon Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp., among others, are already playing a small role in restoring communications, he said.

He said three regional network contracts will be awarded to ensure the entire country gets coverage. One contract, he said, could lead to companies providing coverage only to Baghdad and other large cities. By breaking it into three regional contracts, he said he hopes smaller cities and towns will get communications.

The telecommunications contract will be awarded by the end of September. DOD officials said they could not yet estimate its value.

The company that wins the contract will determine what medium to use, whether fiber-optic cable, satellite or microwave. The contractor also must be sure the new system is compatible with the existing infrastructure in Iraq, as well as in neighboring countries.

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