Military awards GIG-BE fiber contracts

The Defense Information Systems Agency announced Sept. 24 that it awarded two multiple-year contracts worth up to $390 million to buy fiber for the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) program.

The firm-fixed price contracts include $250 million for implementation and $140 million for support, a Sept. 24 DISA statement said. The contracts will be followed by GIG-BE equipment deals to be awarded in late December and additional fiber contracts, the agency statement said.

GIG-BE is one of the most watched DOD information technology programs and a critical piece of the department's concept of network-centric operations. The $886 million initiative will link with fiber 100 Web sites worldwide so warfighters and analysts can quickly post and send intelligence and information.

DISA would not identify the two companies that won the fiber deals because of security concerns, but Qwest Communication International Inc. was the top candidate, industry officials said. The contract did not involve foreign military sales, the agency statement said.

Naming vendors "would draw attention to the specific vendors and the specific locations they are conducting work," said DISA spokesperson Betsy Flood, in a Sept. 17 statement before the GIG-BE fiber contracts were awarded. "Granted most of the vendors competing for the fiber buy have publicly accessible topologies, but we're not going to single anyone out and therefore increase the threat."

Fiber firms have placed maps online where they laid cable during the telecommunications industry expansion of the 1990s, industry officials said. U.S. enemies or hackers could download the maps to know where the fiber lays, search for it, then cut or tap into it, officials said.

DISA planned to award up to nine GIG-BE fiber contracts. However, the DISA statement signals that the department had to purchase fiber instead of leasing it. DOD negotiated from a position of leasing fiber for 25 years or 10 years — which it favored — or buying it.

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