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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Competition poised to heat up on $50B EIS contract

AT&T and Verizon have joined CenturyLink as the initial group of carriers to have their back-office business support systems approved for the massive Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

Approvals are still pending for the remaining six primes under the General Services Administration's $50 billion EIS contract but are expected soon.

With these approvals, the expectation is that the competition for task orders will heat up.

Agencies have issued more than 15 proposals to EIS holders. AT&T's Chris Smith said he expects to see task order awards within the next couple of months.

“I expect it is going to be a busy summer and fall,” said Smith, who is vice president for technology in AT&T’s public sector business.

Mike Maiorana, senior vice president of Verizon's public sector business, echoed that expectation.

Agencies began putting out proposals to EIS contracts in September. “We have bids due next week,” Maiorana said.

EIS was awarded to 10 companies (including the now-merged CenturyLink and Level 3) nearly two years ago, and since then they have been working to earn their authorities-to-operate and get their business support systems approved.

The business systems cover billing, provisioning, inventories, ordering and other items. “It is soup to nuts of how you operate,” Smith said.

Both Smith and Maiorana described EIS a transformative vehicle that will offer agencies a more robust and secure network and communications infrastructure.

Agencies have until May 2023 to fully transition from Networx and other regional telecommunications contracts to EIS.

But for Maiorana and Smith, the transition isn’t just a lift and shift of Networx services to the same services under EIS.

Verizon’s message to agencies is to not worry about the transition. “We know how to do that, let us worry about that,” Maiorana said.

Instead, he said agencies should think about transformation and “we can hold their hand through that.

"You have to balance trust and innovation.”

The opportunity for the EIS holders is to introduce new technologies that are more flexible and more secure.

“All of this should be driven by security,” Smith said.

He described a hybrid infrastructure that incorporates wireline, wireless and mobile technologies.

And 5G wireless technologies are just on the horizon, both Smith and Maiorana said.

“The future network is here,” Smith said.

Gone will be proprietary hardware and instead it will be replaced by software defined networks, he said.

“65 percent of AT&T’s core network is software defined now, so agencies have the ability to take advantage of that right now,” Smith said.

AT&T also will leverage its FirstNet contract for first responders to bring more network and infrastructure capabilities out to users in the field, Smith said.

“EIS sets the government up to transform and modernize on a secure, high-bandwidth network that brings computing power out to the edge,” Maiorana said. “It’ll be faster with more security and it’ll be more economical.”

Global commercial enterprises are moving aggressively down this path and the government can move down this path as well, he said.

“Federal agencies will have access to the same technologies at the same time,” he said.

Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink are the largest telecommunications providers in the market so it isn’t surprising that they are the first out of the gate.

And now that there are three primes with ATOs, the expectation is that awards will begin to flow.

“We submitted our first proposal in September,” Maiorana said. “We are ready now.”

CenturyLink’s lead government executive David Young told Washington Technology earlier this month when they received the first ATO that the Social Security Administration, Justice Department, NASA, FBI and Bureau of Prisons all have task orders pending in various stages.

The competition going forward will only get more intense as more ATOs are issued. But with nine carriers, will there be enough for everyone? Or will we end up with a group of haves and have-nots?

“There will be plenty of opportunities out there,” Smith said. “We like the healthy competition.”

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 26, 2019 at 7:56 AM

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