Sprint's FTS vet joins Qwest, will lead government division

Sprint's FTS vet joins Qwest, will lead government division

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

James F.X. Payne, Sprint Corp.'s government assistant vice president who helped land both the FTS 2000 and FTS 2001 long-haul communications contracts, has joined Qwest Communications Inc. of Denver to lead its government markets division.

'They have chosen to pursue this segment of the business aggressively,' said Payne, whose new title is senior vice president for government markets.

Qwest shares with Sprint a Treasury Communications System contract and has several Defense Department contracts, but it has made no concerted effort to pursue federal business, Payne said.

'I'd like to double it' by next spring, he said.

Payne spent four years with GTE Corp. before joining Sprint in 1986 as a senior sales manager. He became an assistant vice president in 1995.
''He worked on the team that won an FTS 2000 contract in 1988, along with AT&T Corp., under the landmark General Services Administration program that brought competitive long-distance telephone service to the federal government.

Payne went on to lead the team that put together Sprint's winning proposal for the follow-on FTS 2001 program, under which MCI WorldCom Inc. also won a contract. Sprint has so far secured more than half the estimated available FTS 2001 business, according to the company.

Payne announced his departure from Sprint Aug. 16 and his new position at Qwest two days later.

'There's a stage in everyone's life when they need to take some chances,' he said of the move. 'I was facing another 10 years of re-upping'that would be 20 years on one contract. It was my plan to hand the ball off to someone else.'

Quick change

Payne said the decision to join Qwest was sudden, although he had taken note of the young fiber-optic networking company while working on Sprint's FTS 2001 proposal.

He said technology is changing so rapidly that established companies with an existing infrastructure often cannot compete well against newer ones that build from scratch. Sprint demonstrated this, he said, when it went up against AT&T with a brand-new fiber network a generation ago, and he is betting that Qwest will repeat history.

Qwest has 18,500 fiber-route miles in the United States and is developing similar networks in Mexico and Europe. Payne said there are two pipelines in the network, one lit and one with dark fiber, or spare capacity. Only a fraction of the lit pipe's capacity is being used, he said.

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