To draw users, FTS 2001 contractors keep adding new services

To draw users, FTS 2001 contractors keep adding new services

MCI WorldCom and Sprint expand their offerings for the long-haul telecommunications program

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

As the Federal Technology Service struggles to move agencies to its FTS 2001 long-haul telecommunications program, contractors Sprint Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc. are upping the ante with new services.

Both have boosted frame relay speeds and port sizes, added new switches and routers to speed access to services, and thrown in new paging and managed network offerings.

'We want everything we can add to FTS 2001,' said Zane Shankar, Sprint's group manager for modifications.

Four new or enhanced services went onto Sprint's contract in March and April, and a shopping list of other additions is still under consideration by FTS.

What's new on FTS 2001 contracts

Access adaptation equipmentXX
Call center servicesXX
Electronic data interchange'X
Managed encryption servicesX'
Managed network servicesXX
Managed Web hostingX'
Personal wireless communicationX'
Prepaid phone cardsX'
Proposed trial offerings:

X Sprint Integrated On-demand Network: Sprint hopes to identify an agency for trials by late this year.

X MCI WorldCom very-high-performance IP backbone services: A trial with the Geological Survey is planned for this year.

'A lot of the priorities are being driven by agency needs,' said Chuck Brock, director of FTS 2001 marketing for MCI WorldCom. The company has made 27 modifications to its contract in the past year, eight of them since January.

Many of the services being added are already available on other government contracts, but 'this is the contract vehicle of choice,' Shankar said.

One focus for agencies is obtaining managed network services for both asynchronous transfer mode and frame relay, Brock said.

Sprint put managed network services on its contract after receiving FTS approval in March. An agency can outsource management of its ATM switches, routers and hubs, or have the contractor install such equipment and then turn it over to the agency.

FTS is considering a similar MCI WorldCom offering.

MCI WorldCom added paging in September, and Sprint might request that its Sprint PCS wireless service become part of FTS 2001.

Broader reach

Both contractors also have expanded the geographic scope of some services. MCI WorldCom extended international private lines to Bermuda in January, and Sprint extended frame relay service to Hawaii and Puerto Rico last month.

Both companies have added constant bit rate, variable bit rate and unspecified bit rate for frame relay. Constant bit rate is necessary for voice and video traffic.

Among the departments asking Sprint for such services were Veterans Affairs and Justice, he said.

Both companies also are considering adding call center services, for which Brock said MCI WorldCom has gotten a lot of requests.

MCI WorldCom is modifying its electronic data interchange offerings at the request of the Defense Department, he said.

Shankar said about 60 percent of Sprint's modifications have resulted from agency requests.MCI WorldCom officials said fewer than half of its changes were based on agency requests.

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