DOD expects help as it cuts over to FTS 2001

In moving its switched voice and other nondata services to the FTS 2001 program, the
Defense Department will rely heavily on MCI WorldCom Inc.’s experience in shepherding
DOD network transitions over the past several years.


“We negotiated with MCI WorldCom to handle the lion’s share of the transition
work,” said John C. Johnson, DOD’s FTS 2001 transition manager.


DOD also will hire a team of additional contractors to help move voice services to the
new provider, but MCI WorldCom’s transition support was a factor in its win over
competing contractor Sprint Corp. [GCN, March 29, Page 6].


“This was particularly hard-fought,” said Diana Gowan, MCI WorldCom’s
executive director for DOD sales and programs. “It is not a trivial task, but
it’s one we’ve done and are familiar with.”


MCI WorldCom, for example, handled most of DOD’s recent transition from the old
AT&T Corp.-supplied Defense Commercial Telecommunications Network to the Defense
Information Systems Network. AT&T in 1997 received a contract for the transmission
portion of DISN in the continental United States, but MCI WorldCom’s predecessor
company got the switching portion of DISN and did most of the transition work.


MCI WorldCom and its predecessor, MCI Communications Corp., also have been providing
DOD’s international switched voice service since 1992.


The DOD work is a big win for MCI WorldCom. Although just 40 percent of the
department’s users have had AT&T telephone service under FTS 2000, DOD still has
been its largest single customer, accounting for a fifth of its total FTS business,
Johnson said. This time around, all of DOD’s telephone business will go to FTS 2001.


The department has spent about $158 million annually on FTS 2000 services. The figure
includes services other than the switched long-distance voice, calling card, toll-free and
900-number services that DOD will acquire under FTS 2001.


“For switched voice, we average around 120 million call minutes of volume per
month,” Johnson said.


Transition to the new contract probably will occur by geographical area rather than by
base or service branch.


“We do not intend to transition each agency or department separately but rather
are looking at our high-volume locations as candidates to transition first,” Johnson
said.


The department plans to use savings realized under FTS 2001 to help pay the transition
costs.


“We are evaluating to what extent FTS 2001 will be used for data service,”
Johnson said.


DOD already has an extensive infrastructure to handle command and control needs at
higher security than FTS 2001 can offer. Any movement of data services to the new contract
would depend on the business case, Johnson said.


The toughest part of the transition will be the nuts and bolts of establishing contacts
with offices and agencies, and validating the accuracy of databases and equipment
inventories, Gowan said.


Although DOD will become MCI WorldCom’s single largest customer, it will
contribute only 2 percent of the company’s total voice traffic.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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