Expanded Networx contract worth $20 billion

The addition of a wide range of technologies and services to the General Services Administration's next-generation telecommunications contract has boosted the potential value of the vehicle to $20 billion.

FTS Networx, the Federal Technology Service's telecommunications and network services contract to be awarded in April 2006, originally had been estimated at about $10 billion over 10 years.

According to John Johnson, assistant commissioner for service development and delivery at FTS, the contract's value doubled based on its length, the wider portfolio of service requirements, customer buying patterns and growth prospects in the field.

The elements included in the Networx draft requests for proposal, released Oct. 29, reflect a shift in the telecom and IT industries in which vendors are offering both types of services.

Among the services that do not usually fall within telecommunications but are included in Networx are management and application services such as storage, collaboration support and unified messaging.

Security is another area where Networx expands beyond traditional telecom, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc., Jenkintown, Pa. Managed firewalls and intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning and secure managed e-mail -- all more commonly found in IT-focused contracts -- are included.

The upcoming contract, split into two RFPs called Universal and Enterprise, is intended to replace the agency's FTS 2001 governmentwide acquisition contract held by Sprint Corp. and MCI Inc., which expires in 2006. FTS plans to make multiple awards in both categories.

The Universal RFP is for companies offering nationwide service, and the bulk of the service requirements are mandatory. The Enterprise RFP is for companies that offer specialized telecommunications or network services but do not have nationwide coverage.

There are a handful of mandatory service requirements, but the bulk of the services a bidder can include are optional, allowing more targeted responses, Suss said.

Patience Wait is a senior writer with Government Computer News. She can be reached at pwait@postnewsweektech.com.

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