DISA selects AT&T for domestic communication

WASHINGTON - With the January selection of AT&T Government Markets Division in Washington to provide the domestic backbone of their proposed global communications network, officials of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) have contracted out another portion of their formerly in-house system - or more than 100 independent networks.

DISA selects AT&T for domestic communications

By John Rhea

WASHINGTON - With the January selection of AT&T Government Markets Division in Washington to provide the domestic backbone of their proposed global communications network, officials of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) have contracted out another portion of their formerly in-house system - or more than 100 independent networks.

AT&T won a maximum-$5 billion contract over nine years. The company beat out MCI Communications Corp. of Washington, and Sprint Corp. in Kansas City, Mo., in a competition in which 190 firms were originally solicited but only three submitted proposals.

The award follows DISA`s selection of MCI last August for switched bandwidth services in the continental United States (CONUS), a contract worth about $400 million. MCI will now coordinate that work with AT&T`s Defense Information System Network (DISN) transmission services - CONUS effort.

Four more DISA awards to round out the DISN system are scheduled for this year: global video services, an information transfer system in Hawaii, DISN earth terminal stations, and the global broadcast system. Two additional contracts are due in 1998: DISN transmission services in the Pacific and in Europe, and one other will be in 1999: DISN switched services in Europe.

The basic strategy, originally approved by the Pentagon top management two years ago, is to award a series of short-term, competitive contracts to provide DISA with positive control over costs and infrastructure, says Lt. Gen. Albert Edmonds, DISA director.

DISA and its military customers have been spending $300 million a year on CONUS telecommunications (voice, data, video, and dedicated point-to-point) alone, and Defense Department officials are seeking the same kind of cost reductions that have become common in the fiercely competitive commercial market.

The strategy also involves a system architecture to allow upgrades based on the availability of new technology. "We are doing it piece by piece, commodity by commodity, using a multiple contract approach to the procurements," Edmonds says.

There are 11 subcontractors on the AT&T team, mostly regional Bell operating companies and independent telephone companies plus Time Warner Communications Inc. of Englewood, Colo., and Metropolitan Fiber Systems Inc. of Vienna, Va.

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