Commerce and Labor tap MCI for FTS 2001

Commerce and Labor tap MCI for FTS 2001

Alan Balutis, deputy

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

The Labor and Commerce departments have chosen MCI WorldCom Inc. to provide voice, data, Internet and conferencing under the Federal Technology Service's FTS 2001 program.

Commerce had been part of AT&T Corp.'s Network A under the old mandatory FTS 2000 contracts for long-haul telecommunications. The department and its 17 bureaus now will switch to MCI WorldCom for all telecom needs except local service. Labor had been a Sprint Corp. customer under FTS 2000.

The estimated value of the Commerce deal is $100 million if the department sticks with MCI WorldCom for the duration of the program. No total value was placed on the Labor agreement, but Tony Bardo, director of civilian markets for MCI WorldCom government markets, said Labor spent $13 million on FTS 2000 services last year.

Under the nonmandatory FTS 2001 contracts, federal agencies can choose between MCI WorldCom and Sprint or go to a provider outside the program.

Commerce deputy chief information officer Alan Balutis said the decision, reviewed by senior telecommunications managers from the secretary's office and each bureau, was based on MCI WorldCom's ability to meet the department's needs as well as price.

Although MCI WorldCom was not an FTS 2000 vendor, Bardo said the carrier began providing advanced toll-free 800 service to the Census Bureau before the 1990 Census. It also supplies some networking services to the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Big switchover

Commerce has begun holding transition meetings with the carrier and wants to begin shifting services as quickly as possible, Bardo said. 'I expect it will take well into next year before we get all the bureaus switched over,' he said.

The services at Commerce probably will involve upgrades to data services. 'Nobody wants to transition like for like,' he said.

MCI WorldCom will supply Labor with long-distance voice and advanced data services, asynchronous transfer mode networks for the Job Corps, Internet service and conferencing. Labor will continue to buy some private-line services from Sprint.

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