Qwest nets fed telecom services in DC

Qwest Communications International Inc. will provide Internet access service for federal agencies in metropolitan Washington under a $1 billion-plus telecommunications and data contract previously unavailable to other providers in the region, the company said today.

The Washington Interagency Telecommunications Services 2001 contract, worth $1.4 billion over an eight-year period when it was issued in 2000, is part of the General Services Administration's Metropolitan Area Acquisition program that covers around 400,000 federal access lines. The program was put in place to allow government agencies to obtain lower rates for telecommunications services and equipment.

Under the program, contracts are awarded for telecoms services in major metropolitan areas in the United States, including Washington, its largest area. To be eligible for a contract, companies must meet the GSA's technical and management requirements.

Under the contract for the Washington area, Qwest will provide federal agencies with dedicated Internet access service. The Denver-based voice and data services provider is the first government contractor to receive eligibility for crossover into the WITS2001 contract. The GSA's crossover contracts allow for additional competition in a specific functional area or market.

Qwest was previously awarded a Seattle Metropolitan Area Acquisition crossover contract in May 2002 for a four-year base period, including four one-year options. After modifying its existing Seattle contract and meeting the contract's requirements, the company is now eligible to supply services in the Washington area through 2010, the company said.

Until now, Verizon Communications Inc. has been the only company to hold a WITS2001 contract for voice and data services in the national capital region. The New York-based telecom services provider inherited the contract when the company was formed in 2000 after Bell Atlantic acquired GTE.

"Opening the WITS2001 program to other providers will offer federal government agencies more choices for telecommunications services," said James Payne, senior vice president of Qwest's government services division. "Competition means lower process and the latest technology for the government."

Qwest employs 47,000 workers and had revenue of $14.3 billion in 2003.

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