FTS, industry to hold open session on Networx

Industry will have the chance Feb. 17 to give the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service its thoughts on FTS Networx, the agency's next-generation telecommunications contract.

FTS has received more than 700 written comments from 48 companies in response to the Networx request for information that was released in October, according to John Johnson, GSA assistant commissioner for service development and acting assistant commissioner for service delivery.

The stakes are high: Networx has a $10 billion ceiling, according to Input Inc., a Reston, Va., research firm. The contract is a replacement for FTS2001, the GSA's long-distance telecommunications contract now held by Sprint Corp. and WorldCom Inc. FTS2001 will expire in December 2006.

Sandra Bates, FTS commissioner, said there have been several industry meetings already, but the Feb. 17 meeting is important because all of the FTS senior staff will be there, as well as the directors from the New York, Philadelphia and National Capital regions.

"Many times, solutions are revealed and new ideas are born through this dialogue," Bates said. "It's not like we're dealing with a group of people who all sing the same song. And none of them are shrinking violets."

The responses to the RFI cover everything from technical aspects and operations to pricing, billing and the ability of small companies to participate in the contract.

The structure for Networx proposes two phases. The first, Networx Universal, will be a multiple-award deal for a full range of nationwide and international services, providing to all government locations plus all commercial locations where the vendors offer service. There will be only a small number of awards in this phase.

Networx Select, the second phase, is proposed as a multiple-award vehicle for vendors that have specific services or product niches. Small businesses also can bid on this portion.

The Networx working session will be held at the Marriott Tysons Corner in McLean, Va. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the meeting starts at 9 a.m. Registration can be done via the Internet at the Industry Advisory Council Web site on the February calendar page.

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