AT&T, VerizonBusiness, Qwest win US government telecom deal

AT&T, Verizon Business and Qwest have hit the jackpot, winning a 10-year, US$20 billion telecommunications contract with the U.S. federal government that is the largest of its kind in the world.

Sprint Nextel was not so lucky. The carrier which held both predecessor contracts, FTS 2001 and FTS 2000, served the U.S. federal government as a telecommunications provider for 18 years but lost out on the so-called Networx Universal contract.

The U.S. General Services Administration announced the winners of the contract at a press conference in Washington, D.C.,Thursday morning.

Networx Universal will provide domestic and international voice, data, video and wireless services to federal agencies for the next decade.

All the top-tier U.S. carriers — AT&T, Qwest, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Business — submitted bids on Networx Universal.

Networx “will transform the current federal telecommunications system to a secure, worldwide, IP and MPLS-based network compliant with Internet Protocol version 6 and other major technological advances,” according to a GSA statement released Thursday.

The contract features 50 services ranging from legacy frame relay and ATM to cutting-edge VPNs and VOIP.

Networx is the largest federal telecommunications acquisition ever completed. It will support 135 agencies across 191 countries. It replaces the FTS 2001 contract, which was awarded to Sprint and MCI in 1998 and 1999, respectively.

Many of the biggest names in the network and IT services industry will share in the Networx Universal prize.

The winning Networx Universal teams feature the following players:

–AT&T’s team includes Northrop Grumman, Electronic Data Systems, SRA International, GTSI, Global Crossing, Cingular Wireless and Bechtel.

–Qwest’s team includes Akamai Technologies, Bearing Point, Hawaiian Telecom Services, Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent), Science Applications International and Wire One Communications.

–The Verizon Business team includes G2 Satellite Solutions, HP, WilTel Communications (now owned by Level 3 Communications), Verizon Wireless, Comtech Telecommunications and Proxim Wireless Networks.

The losing Sprint Nextel team features Lockheed Martin, Hughes Network Systems and InterCall.

The teams spent nearly three years and millions of dollars preparing their bids on Networx Universal. They submitted their best and final offers in December and have been waiting for an award since mid-March. On the horizon is the award of the Networx Enterprise contract, which is due in May. Networx Enterprise focuses on emerging IP and wireless services.

All four Networx Universal teams submitted bids on Networx Enterprise, as did a team led by Level 3.

The dollar estimate of $20 billion is for the entire Networx program, including the Networx Universal and Networx Enterprise contracts.

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