Focusing on security

The Networx contracts focus more strongly on security than previous telecom vehicles have, FTS officials said. John Johnson, FTS' assistant commissioner for service development and delivery, said that security must be an integral component of the technologies, not something added on as an afterthought.

Networx officials emphasize virtual private networking technologies as one example, Schobert said. "We're very interested in what you have to provide secure tunnels for the government to do its work."

The services that are required also include several applications of IP technologies, wireless and management applications as well as standard voice service. However, "switched voice" has been changed to just "voice" among the requirements, so that bidders will not be locked into the old switching technology, Johnson said.

Networx Enterprise bidders also will be required to provide access services that allow users to connect to other networks when necessary, since the Enterprise vendors may not provide everything agency officials will need.

Companies have been vocal about Networx all along, and Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc., said that is unlikely to change now.

"Now that they're giving more definition they'll probably get some additional pushback," he said.

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