Sprint launching secure intranet for government customers

GovNet may never have gotten off the ground, but it is serving as an inspiration to at least one telecommunications company.

GovNet was the proposal floated in early 2002 by Richard Clarke, then the president's cybersecurity adviser, to create a standalone intranet for the government. Driven by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, GovNet was envisioned as an independent entity, with a new fiber network and no connection to the public Internet.

Now Sprint Communications Corp. is preparing to offer government customers a new IP-based intranet solution designed to meet the growing security and performance needs of both federal and state agencies. The "government-grade" intranet, as the company has dubbed it, builds upon Sprint's existing Tier-1 IP backbone, but it has no gateways to the public Internet.

"GovNet was kind of the root. This is very similar," said Sprint spokesman Steve Lunceford. After the initial request for information for GovNet came out last year, government customers expressed an interest in acquiring access to that kind of secure network, he said.

GovNet ultimately priced itself out of reach because of the stringent requirements laid out in the RFI, such as the requirement that it have its own fiber network, Lunceford said. Sprint's offering will be running over existing fiber. The company plans to introduce the new intranet solution before the end of June.

"We have not signed any customers yet that we can discuss, but we are confident that by the time it's launched they [will be on board]," Lunceford said.

Headquartered in Westwood, Kan., Sprint is a global communications company, with more than 26 million business and residential customers in more than 70 countries. The company has approximately 72,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue of almost $27 billion.

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