As part of overhaul, Pentagon to get ATM backbone

Over the last 55 years, the Pentagon has accumulated more than 100,000 miles of copper
and fiber cable.


In the next decade, the cable will be torn out and replaced with new wire and a
high-speed asynchronous transfer mode network that Defense Department officials predict
will last for another half-century.


The Defense Supply Service awarded the $110 million contract for rebuilding the
Pentagon’s information and telecommunications infrastructure to GTE Corp. GTE
Government Systems will install the ATM backbone [GCN, Aug. 24, Page 6].


“We’re running a mix of fiber and copper at the early stages,” said Rich
Fitzharris, chief engineer in the Pentagon Renovation Office. “There will be both
wire and fiber to the desktops. We’re going to provide ATM, and the customers will
decide what they want on the desk.”


GTE beat out Boeing Information Services Inc. of Vienna, Va., Lucent Technologies Inc.
of Murray Hill, N.J., and Harris Corp. to become prime contractor for the Above-Ground
Telecommunications Backbone (ATB).


The Army Corps of Engineers is renovating the Pentagon, still one of the world’s
largest office buildings, in five phases over a decade. Because of the project’s
length, the contract also calls for technology refreshment.


“We’re working on various issues with the corps” to accelerate the
schedule to keep technology current in each of the building’s five wedges, Fitzharris
said. The goal is a backbone that Pentagon users will not outgrow any time soon, he said.


“We’re trying to wire the building so it will hold up even if the electronics
change,” Fitzharris said. “We hope to integrate voice, video and data when the
industry is ready.”


Opinions vary as to whether video standards are yet adequate for network integration,
Fitzharris said.


Specifics of the Pentagon plans will have to wait until the Renovation Office discusses
the ATB contract with its prime contractor and evaluates the offerings of 11 team members.


“By December, we’re supposed to have a more detailed plan,” Fitzharris
said.


Talks likely will begin early next month, a GTE spokesman said, but initial work
already has begun on Wedge 1. About 5,000 workers have relocated to other Pentagon
locations or to office buildings in the area, and a new fiber grid is in place to support
temporary and transitional communications needs.


Removal of hazardous materials is under way, and interior demolition will begin in
January. Construction and backbone installation will start several months after that.


The backbone eventually will support communications for about 24,000 workers. It will
take 135,000 service drops to make network connections for the five above-ground floors of
the Pentagon.


This will be the Pentagon’s first comprehensive, integrated network. Existing
networks were built piecemeal. Thomas W. Muldoon, president of GTE Government Systems,
said the project will serve as a model for future large-scale communications systems.


Companies on GTE’s team are Advanced Systems Development Inc. of Arlington, Va.;
Artel Inc. of Reston, Va.; Global Management Systems Inc. of Bethesda, Md.; Henkels &
McCoy Inc. of Lorton, Va.; ITEQ of Silver Spring, Md.; J.G. Van Dyke & Associates of
Bethesda, Md.; Lightwave Spectrum Inc. of Chantilly, Va.; NCI Information Systems of
McLean, Va.; SIGCOM of Greensboro, N.C.; SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va.; and Sytel
Inc. of Bethesda, Md.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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