GSA Unveils Telecom Crossover Provisions

The General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service released guidelines that will allow telecommunications companies to provide the government with both local and long-distance services.

Under the guidelines, released Aug. 17, Sprint Communications Corp. of Westwood, Kan., and WorldCom Inc. of Clinton, Miss., may now submit contract modification proposals to provide local telecom services in cities that have Metropolitan Area Acquisition contracts.

Sprint and WorldCom currently provide the federal government with its long-distance services through the FTS2001 contract.

Conversely, the MAA providers in the 21 cities covered by the agreements now may bid on opportunities to provide long-distance services in direct competition with Sprint and WorldCom. These companies include WinStar Communications Inc., AT&T Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., all of New York; Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver; and BellSouth Corp. of Atlanta.

GSA announced proposals will be accepted initially for long-distance services and for seven of the cities with MAA providers: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami and Cincinnati.

A Sprint spokesman said it is too early to determine if the company is satisfied that all parties have been treated equitably in the rules and requirements, which are called the crossover guidelines.

"We're still assessing whether the parties have to meet the same technical requirements we had to," said Sprint's John Polivka. "That will determine if a level playing field is indeed being created."

Polivka said his company's second concern remains: that the provisions would allow MAA providers to bid on supplying just the more lucrative, high-end services without providing all services.

"Apparently, the door was left wide open for that to occur," he said.

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