Billions lurk in new telecom work

Defense, Homeland Security ready projects for bids

The grid is like "a road system, where GIG-BE represents the high-speed interstate system, while DISN constitutes the local on-ramps and tributaries." ? Tony Montemarano, DISA GIG-BE program director.

Olivier Douliery

The departments of Defense and Homeland Security are preparing four new communications and network projects that will generate billions of dollars in business for IT, wireless and telecom companies.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is planning to release a request for proposals for a contract to extend the reach of the a $900 million Global Information Grid over the Defense Information Systems Network.

DHS' Project Safecom is set to launch pilot projects to improve public safety communications, while the Air Force is soliciting proposals in a $10 billion network-centric warfare program to obtain a variety of communications services for voice, video and data.

The Navy Installations Command also is kicking off a major IT consolidation program with an RFP for server consolidation.



The Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program, known as GIG-BE, will give the Defense Information Systems Network a new lease on life. To revamp the network for integration with GIG-BE, the Defense Information Systems Agency this spring will release a request for proposals for the DISN Access Transport Services contract.

The Defense Department will use the DISN infrastructure to provide last-mile connectivity to the global grid, a ground-based, switched, optical network that will create a worldwide information backbone supporting 10-Gbps or faster connections.

Before the department can issue the RFP, the Access Transport Services project must get approval from the department's senior IT officials. DISA wants to award the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract in late summer.

Joseph Boyd, chief of DISA's Center for Network Services, said the Access Transport Services contract will merge DISN and GIG-BE at defense sites not covered by the grid.

"The DISN Access Transport Services contract is planned to become the vehicle that will allow DISA to eliminate multiple transport infrastructures," Boyd said.

GIG-BE will let DISA get rid of much of the DISN core, but the agency also needs a way to connect DISN and its service delivery nodes to the global grid's architecture, Boyd said, linking users to the network.

Through GIG-BE and Access Transport Services, the agency will develop that capability as an Internet protocol transport system.

To date, DISA has awarded a variety of DISN contracts, some which will expire in the next two years. Those contracts include leased commercial satellites and support, video and transmission services.

As part of the DISN upgrade, many legacy voice, data and video systems, as well as emerging capabilities such as the Net-Centric Enterprise Services initiative, will move to operate over IP.

The initiative will integrate common information services over the Global Information Grid.

"This will require major architectural changes and, in some cases such as DISN Video Services, will require [major] technological upgrades to that which is in use today," Boyd said.

The Defense Department is rolling out GIG-BE at roughly 100 sites throughout the world. DISN is moving to IP from a circuit-based transport system.

Tony Montemarano, GIG-BE program director, said the grid would be deployed to many of the DISN's largest sites. An upgraded DISN will remain at other sites.

"From the transport and Internet protocol perspective, these sites will be optimized around the new broader bandwidth-based GIG-BE," Montemarano said.

DISN will continue to reach close to 700 locations globally.

"You can liken it to a road system where GIG-BE represents the high-speed interstate system, while DISN constitutes the local on-ramps and tributaries," Montemarano said.

"In time, the distinction between DISN and GIG-BE will be eliminated, and it will become one integrated telecommunications infrastructure," he said.

By September, GIG-BE will operate at 10 sites. The program will add 10 more sites by December and finish deployment by September 2005.



DHS will call for industry to propose innovative wireless interoperability solutions through a broad agency announcement to be issued at the end of March, said Rick Murphy, program manager for Project Safecom.

"We want to get the latest technology and innovative ideas to do several demonstration projects for wireless communications across all levels of government," Murphy said.

Murphy said several pilot projects proposed in response to the broad agency announcement would be selected for funding, likely by the end of 2004. He said the proposals must detail a specific public safety organization that would participate in the pilot.

The department has found that one-third of local public safety agencies, such as police and fire departments, cannot talk with each other over wireless communications devices, such as radios in the field, said Murphy while speaking Feb. 19 at the Federal Networks 2004 conference in Vienna, Va.

Project Safecom, one of 25 cross-agency e-government initiatives, seeks to develop more effective, interoperable wireless communications so that local, state, federal and tribal public safety agencies can all communicate.

Murphy said he was not sure how much funding would be available for the pilot projects.



The Air Force released its third draft RFP Feb. 25 for the $10 billion Network-Centric Solutions program. Netcents will be a multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to provide IT, networking, telephony, security and voice, video and data communications solutions, according to Input Inc., a Reston, Va., IT market research firm.

The Air Force wants to improve its interoperability, compatibility and resource sharing. Four large businesses and three small business will be prime contractors, according to Input. The third draft RFP states that 42 percent of the work under the contract will go to small business.

Netcents will be large enough so that it can grow and perform services for other Defense Department agencies if necessary, said Brig. Gen. Bradley Butler, deputy chief information officer of the Air Force, at the Federal Networks 2004 conference.

"We wanted to make sure we had the capability to work with our sister services," Butler said.



The recently commissioned Navy Installations Command has as a mission to save money by consolidating 29 business areas across 98 installations around the globe.

CNI, which officially became a command in October and is based at the Pentagon, expects to take the first step in that direction in April when it releases a request for proposals for a server consolidation program, said Jeffrey Huskey, CNI's deputy command information officer.

CNI also is developing an enterprise architecture, deploying the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet portal, developing a sensor integration plan and establishing a set of standard applications.

"Right now, there are a lot of people in charge of the governance for IT," Huskey said at the Federal Networks 2004 conference.

"We inherited all the different application management stuff from all the organizations. We inherited 17,000 servers, 19,000 apps, very few of which communicate with each other," he said.

The cost of maintaining the applications runs about $400 million a year, not including Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, Huskey said.

CNI will host an industry day in March about the architecture, sensor and server consolidation plans. The agency will also draft a statement of work to get comments about the plans from vendors.

Senior Editor Nick Wakeman contributed to this report. Dawn Onley is a staff writer at Government Computer News and can be reached at Staff Writer Gail Repsher Emery can be reached at

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