Telecom firms get wired for Networx

The three companies with Networx Universal contracts have hit the ground running trying to build business. Although they are still at the very early stages, finishing required tests on their operations support systems and taking stock of the market, AT&T Government Solutions, Verizon Federal and Qwest Communications International Inc. are all trying to prime the pump for business.

Qwest held a launch event in Washington, D.C., today, while Verizon hosted a media roundtable May 8, and AT&T conducted an industry day to meet with partners earlier this month. The General Services Administration awarded the contract ? a 10-year vehicle that is expected to generate billions of dollars in business ? in late March. GSA will award Networx Enterprise, a more limited companion vehicle, sometime in May.

The companies all have challenges. AT&T was not a holder of FTS 2001, the contract that Networx will replace, and had won federal customers through a crossover mechanism that allowed it to do some business through the contract anyway. Qwest, meanwhile, needs to remind potential customers that it is no longer a regional carrier limited to 14 western states, as it once was.

"When I go out and I'm with other Qwest employees, each and every one of them knows about the Networx program," said Roxanne Rucker, Qwest's Networx program director. "It's our No. 1 priority."

Charles Lee, chief technology officer for Verizon Federal, sees agency customers taking the transition period between the old and new contracts as a chance to set the stage for technology advances.

While the demands the agencies are making are varied, "Across the board, all agencies are interested in advancing the state of the art for themselves," he said.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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