Bell Atlantic changes name, takes aim at net services

Bell Atlantic changes name, takes aim at net services

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

Bell Atlantic Federal is redefining itself as a one-stop outsourcer for government enterprise networks through its Network Performance Services offering.

Randy Lucas, vice president of the federal unit of Bell Atlantic Corp., said that shedding the telephone company image is just one facet. The company also is shedding the familiar Bell name, associated for more than a century with telephones. After its merger with GTE Corp., Bell Atlantic became Verizon Corp., and the government division probably will be known as Verizon Federal, Lucas said.

The GTE merger will let Bell Atlantic expand geographically from its Atlantic seaboard base. Meanwhile, it will broaden its data offerings.

Network Performance Services involves partnerships with a number of other companies that will provide lifecycle analysis, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of enterprise networks.

'In the old days, we were the ultimate outsource,' Lucas said. Phone customers could use only the phone company's equipment and services. Then the government began to own its systems. 'Now it's come full circle,' Lucas said, and Bell Atlantic Federal is providing more outsourced services.

The core business includes a number of large government network contracts such as one for the Washington Interagency Telecommunications System. 'We do networks,' Lucas said. 'We don't care if it's a voice, video or data network.'

Ready, set, focus

Sharpening the focus on networks was necessary to survive, Lucas said, because all demand growth is on the data side, whereas the bottom is falling out of voice prices.

'We're trying to make a market statement that we can do this,' Lucas said.

Bell Atlantic Federal expects to pick up federal business when its parent company merges with GTE. GTE already has sold off its government division, but a significant amount of federal work is still on the books, Lucas said.

State regulators and the Justice Department have approved the merger, and the Federal Communications Division OK'd it in mid-June, he said.

The General Accounting Office in mid-May denied a protest that had put the WITS 2001 contract on hold. Bell Atlantic received a $1 billion follow-on award to WITS 2000 in January; unsuccessful bidder Winstar Communications Inc. of New York protested before GAO in February. During the protest, Washington area customers received service through an extension to the old WITS contract.

In preparation for WITS 2001, Bell Atlantic Federal developed a graphical ordering, provisioning and billing system called Service@once to replace the old Bell Atlantic Operating System Control, or BAOSC.

The BAOSC text-based ordering and tracking system was designed for the low-end government PCs at the time of the original WITS contract award in 1989. In contrast, Service@once supports online ordering and tracking, generates usage and performance reports, and determines lines and services being provided to an account.

An integrated billing component, Bill@once, can centralize billing and reporting for multiple vendors. It also can bill individual users on paper, CD-ROM or online.

The ability to reconcile front-end ordering with back-end billing was a requirement for WITS 2001, said Bob Frazer, systems program manager for Bell Atlantic Federal.

Service@once and Bill@once were written from the ground up and are not upgrades to BAOSC, Bell Atlantic Federal chief information officer Joan Withers said.

'It was a very large development effort for us,' Withers said. Bell Atlantic had marketed BAOSC as a product. 'We're selling Service@once as a service,' she said.

The Justice Department changed over to Service@once last year. Moving the 23 other agencies that use 170,000 lines under the WITS contract will begin once the WITS protest is resolved, if the ruling upholds Bell Atlantic's award.

Withers said making the transition to Service@once requires cleaning up the BAOSC data records and loading them onto the new system.

'The actual data load takes about two weeks, but we do a lot of cleaning up before that,' she said. Adding a new customer that has not used BAOSC before takes longer.

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