WinStar Federal protests WITS award to Bell Atlantic'it's worth up to $1 billion

WinStar Federal protests WITS award to Bell Atlantic'it's worth up to $1 billion

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

A protest last month from WinStar Federal Services put the Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 2001 contract on hold.

WITS 2001, which Federal Technology Service deputy commissioner Sandra Bates said could save the government up to $300 million, was awarded in January to Bell Atlantic Corp., the incumbent local service provider for the national capital region.

Neither WinStar Federal, a division of WinStar Communications Inc. of New York, nor FTS would comment on the protest, which has been sealed while under consideration by the General Accounting Office.

'Activities under the new contract have been put on hold until the completion of the protest,' FTS network services director Frederick T. Haines wrote in a memo to federal telecommunications customers. The General Services Administration 'is confident that the protest can be resolved to its satisfaction and that the WITS 2001 contract will be allowed to proceed as awarded.'

WITS 2001 is a follow-on to a 1989 contract awarded to C&P Telephone Co., now Bell Atlantic. The original WITS 2000 was primarily for Washington-area voice service, but WITS 2001 has expanded to cover data, video and Internet services, too. It is part of a new round of competitive contracts intended to reduce costs for short-haul services.

WITS 2001 has an estimated value of $1 billion over its four base years and four optional years. FTS officials have said the competitive line rates under WITS 2001 are 40 percent to 70 percent lower than under WITS 2000.

Until the protest is resolved, a continuity-of-service contract negotiated to extend WITS 2000 will remain in place for Washington-area agencies.

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