FTS hustles to replace its long-distance service

FTS’ Dennis Fischer says an
FTS 2001 award is possible by “maybe early December.”

As the General Services Administration last week celebrated the FTS 2000
contract’s 10-year run with representatives of AT&T Corp. and Sprint Corp., the
agency’s Federal Technology Service was scrambling to award an FTS 2001 long-distance
replacement before FTS 2000 runs out Dec. 7.

The latest estimates put the award in late next month. “I think we’re in that
range, maybe early December,” FTS commissioner Dennis J. Fischer said.

Meanwhile, he is negotiating interim contracts with AT&T and Sprint to tide
agencies over during the transition to FTS 2001.

“We tried real hard to have them in place by the beginning of October,” said
Frank E. Lalley, assistant FTS commissioner for service delivery. But he said a number of
issues remain to be resolved with each company.

A Sprint spokesman said the interim contracts would run for one year with monthly
extensions available. The interim arrangements probably will involve price adjustments,
but Lalley would not say whether they would be up or down.

Even if an FTS 2001 award comes before FTS 2000 expires, a bridge contract will be
necessary to cover the transition period. FTS 2000’s inaugural call was not placed
until October 1989, although GSA had signed with AT&T and Sprint the previous
December. It took until June 1990 to complete the government’s cutover to FTS 2000.

The interim contracts not only will make a bridge for transitions, they will leave some
breathing space to agencies that do not want to switch to new telecom services while
coping with year 2000 code fixes, FTS officials said.

They said FTS 2000 has supplied 37.5 billion minutes of service to more than 2 million
customers in fiscal 1998. 

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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