Telecommunications news roundup

111th gets new telecom sheriff

With the 111th Congress only days old, the House subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet has a new chair: Rep. Rick Boucher, (D-Va.)

A member of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee for 20 years, Boucher was second to the former chair Ed Markey, (D-Mass.). The subcommittee oversees telecommunications, broadcasting, cable and the Internet.

Markey, the telecom committee’s former chair and a key supporter of net neutrality and online privacy, swapped his telecom spot for chairmanship of the influential House subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

Boucher has been a supporter of municipal wireless efforts, stronger protection for fair use in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and co-sponsor of a bill to make broadband access more widely available. He also originated the Congressional Internet Caucus in 1996 and is one of that group’s two co-chairs. He also sits on the House Judiciary Committee’s Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property Subcommittee.

On his Web site, Boucher says his “Showcasing Southwest Virginia” program has brought more than 4,800 technology related jobs to his Congressional district in recent years.”


Verizon captures NASA Networx deal

NASA awarded Verizon Business a $108 million Networx Universal task order to provide audio, video and Web conferencing services to all NASA centers and facilities as well as selected contractor sites.

The two-year, three-month deal, which began Jan. 5, has three two-year options; the company stands to take in the full $108 million if all options of the firm-fixed-price contract are exercised.

Networx provider sinks

If it weren’t for bad luck, it seems Hawaiian Telcom Communications wouldn’t have any luck at all.

The Hilo, Hawaii, company filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Wilmington, Del., Dec. 1, 2008, after filing losses of $34.6 million on operating revenue of $112.3 million for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, 2008.

The bankruptcy filing was bad news for Washington investment firm Carlyle Group, which paid Verizon $1.6 billion for the Hawaii local and long-distance provider in 2005.

Hawaii Telcom President and CEO Eric Yeaman issued a statement Dec. 1, claiming the company had $75 million in cash reserves, enough to continue delivering services to its half-million customers. Yeaman also said the company planned to “continue implementing its strategic plan,” which included improving customer services, enhancing processes and systems, and simplifying its existing product offerings while introducing new ones.

Yeaman blamed some of the company’s problems on difficulties transitioning off Verizon back-office functions after its acquisition.

Hawaii Telecom is a specialty provider on Qwest’s Networx team.

Qwest adds telework security app to Networx menu 

Qwest Government Services this month signed Route1 Inc. to an exclusive agreement to resell the Toronto developer’s security and identity management solutions to federal customers under Networx Universal.

Route1’s MobiNet identity management and service delivery platform can let teleworkers securely access data by inserting MobiKey into any Internet-enabled computer, the company said.

The MobiKey and TruOffice subscription-based service will help agencies meet Government Accountability Office mandates for teleworking, continuity of operations planning and other disaster preparedness programs, Route1 said.

Qwest will provide the network and hosting services for the Route1 solutions.

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