AT&T wins $1.7M planning deal

AT&T Government Solutions has been awarded a $1.7 million planning contract to transition the company's portion of a federal emergency communications service onto a new network.

Under the nine-month federal contract, AT&T systems engineers will plan the conversion of the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) to an IP-based Multiprotocol Label Switching network, which is expected to be more efficient and cheaper.

As one of the services offered by the National Communications System (NCS), GETS provides federal, state and local officials; private-sector representatives; and other important emergency stakeholders with a dependable voice and data communications network during events such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Those events increase the volume of emergency phone calls and can overload the current phone networks.

Similar to commercial phone company calling cards, GETS is implemented as a calling card with a toll-free number and a personal identification number. The service supports presidential communications, continuity of government operations and other essential emergency communication functions.

For example, during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the following days, more than 18,000 GETS calls were made worldwide, including more than 10,000 calls in the New York City and Washington, D.C., areas. The call completion rate exceeded 95 percent, and more than 1,500 GETS cards were used.

NCS is an interagency group with representatives from 23 federal departments and agencies. Formed more than 40 years ago, the group coordinates and plans for national security and emergency communications intended for use by the federal government during crises. The Homeland Security Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate oversees the group.

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