FTS awards first two contracts for satellite services







The General Services Administration’s Federal Technology Service has awarded
the first two in a series of satellite communications contracts to Hughes Global Services
Inc. of El Segundo, Calif., and John Tidrow and Associates Inc. of Fayetteville, N.C.


Each contract is worth up to $50 million in the first year and as much as $50 million
more if GSA picks up two six-month options. Federal users can order fixed, mobile,
temporary or permanent services and equipment from the two contracts, which grew out of an
August solicitation for commercial satellite services that included voice, paging, voice
mail, data, imaging, fax and video.


“We received numerous proposals from different vendors,” said Sabrina Crane,
FTS program manager.


The solicitation specified commercial services with government discounts for bundled
services and service and equipment packages. The revenue guarantee is a minimal $100, but
bidders need do little specialization.


The services must, however, support government encryption equipment for end-to-end
security. Vendors must maintain special Web sites for online government orders as well as
accept electronic data interchange, fax, e-mail and telephone orders.


All the contracts will be direct-order and have direct billing. GSA charges a 1 percent
management fee.


Calls began coming in immediately after the contract awards in early February, said
April Ramey, director of the Innovation Center in FTS’ Office of NetworServices.


“There is pent-up demand, and we expect to begin taking orders within a few
days,” Ramey said. She added she expects distance learning to be one of the big
applications.


Tidrow and Associates sells International Maritime Satellite services and resells
ComSat services. Hughes will provide various services including DemandNet, SkyMedia and
DirectPC.


DemandNet links very small aperture terminals through a constellation of 14 satellites
with C-band and Ku-band coverage over most of the populated world.


SkyMedia, a distance learning service, delivers digital video disk and Motion Picture
Experts Group 2 video via satellite throughout the continental United States, Alaska,
Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


Hughes supplies SkyMedia networks for the Social Security Administration and Veterans
Affairs Department.


DirectPC software for Microsoft Windows can download Web and UseNet content via
satellite to a PC’s hard drive and also can provide Internet connectivity.  


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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