CSC telecom deal expanded

National Communications System

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Computer Sciences Corp. announced that a previously awarded contract to supply priority emergency telecommunications services to government employees was modified to include design, development and deployment of another wireless service, bringing the total value of the contract to about $281 million.

The Homeland Security Department's National Communications System (NCS) awarded CSC a contract in early March for continued integration support of two major federal programs called the Government Emergency Telecommunications Services (GETS) and the Wireless Priority Service (WPS). Both would ensure dependable communications during natural or man-made disasters.

GETS uses existing features and services of the public switched telephone network to provide national security and emergency workers with a reliable and flexible switched voice and data communications service. WPS would improve connections for select and authorized national security and emergency wireless phone users. For example, if a wireless network is congested, an emergency call would wait for the next available channel.

The original two-year contract with three one-year options was valued at $81 million. The modified contract could be worth an additional $200 million. Under the modified contract, CSC would design and deploy a wireless service based on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), a way of transmitting simultaneous signals over a shared portion of the spectrum.

According to CSC, the government's original vision for WPS included a service compatible with all major wireless carriers. Four major carriers use the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology standard, while two use the CDMA standard. The GSM-based WPS was developed initially and is being deployed by the GSM carriers, according to company officials.

NCS is an interagency group with representatives from 23 federal departments and agencies. They coordinate and plan for national security and emergency communications for the federal government during crises. Established under President Kennedy's administration, NCS' scope and capabilities were expanded during President Reagan's term. Oversight for the group was transferred to the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate within DHS last year.

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