Verizon wins $495M defense research network contract

Verizon wins back a large contract it held nine years ago and will help run a high-speed computing network shared by the Defense Department's scientific and research community.

Verizon has won a potential 10-year, $495 million contract to help the Defense Department run a high-speed computing network used by the agency’s scientific and research specialists to share their work.

The Defense Information Systems Agency awarded the new Defense Engineering Network contract on Wednesday for a term of four base years and three two-year option periods, according to a notice.

DREN is a high-speed, fiber optic network to connect the military’s supercomputers and researchers so they can work together on scientific research, engineering and testing efforts for the benefit of DOD as a whole.

That new contract is the fourth iteration of DREN. Lumen Technologies was awarded the current version in June 2012 and that contract is slated to expire on June 7, pending the result of a debrief from DISA and possible protest by other bidders.

Lumen was at the time known as CenturyLink, which ironically unseated incumbent Verizon at the time. A number of bidders for the DREN 4 contract is not clear as of this story’s publication.

DREN supplies a mix of Ethernet, Internet Protocol and optical wavelength services to users at research hubs, laboratories and other test facilities run by DOD. Other agencies including NASA and the Energy Department also have access to the network.

AT&T won the original iteration of DREN in 1996, then the former WorldCom (now part of Verizon) won version two six years later.

Lumen representatives declined comment, while officials from Verizon were not able to comment given a mandatory quiet period.