DOD prepares bandwidth RFP

The Defense Information Systems Agency will issue a request for proposals within two weeks on the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program, according to Defense Department officials.

A presolicitation notice for GIG-BE was released last week. The RFP, which could come as early as Friday, is for the acquisition of fiber to support the GIG-BE network, a worldwide, ground-based voice, data and imagery network with 10-Gbps OC-192 connections. DISA could select up to nine separate contractors or combine all of the requirements for GIG-BE under a single award.

Either way, GIG-BE will provide an answer to the long-running problem of insufficient and poorly managed bandwidth that continues to plague Defense, said Air Force Major Gen. Charlie Croom Jr., who spoke Tuesday during the TeleStrategies Conference in Vienna, Va.

"Since I was a second lieutenant, all I've ever done was fight for bandwidth," said Croom, director of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "First, it was voice, very thin line, then data, then video. There was always a fight for bandwidth."

Total procurement for GIG-BE has been set at $877 million. It will be delivered to 90 sites around the world and then throughout DOD, Defense CIO John Stenbit has said.

"He's [Stenbit] trying to get bandwidth off of our table as an issue for us," Croom said. "It will change the way we do business."

A top-ranking Defense official said she would have preferred if DOD had not been forced into building the network.

"I would have liked us not to have done a GIG-BE," said the official. "I would have loved us to run on the public Internet, but the Internet doesn't have a security mechanism to allow us to do that."

Another official added that the Internet is "undefined, uncontrolled and inconsistently protected" and that since GIG-BE will be built on the Defense Information Systems Network, it will be "actively monitored and centrally managed."

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