$1b WITS 2001 contract offers new phone services

$1b WITS 2001 contract offers new phone services

BY WILLIAM JACKSON

GCN Staff

JULY 3—Washington area agencies will keep their telephone numbers and get lower prices under the new Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 2001 contract for local service. But they will have to change their ordering and billing procedures, said officials of contractor Bell Atlantic Corp.

More than 170,000 telecommunications lines in the General Services Administration's national capital region must shift to the new contract by March. The Defense Department, a new customer, will double the size of WITS 2001's user base.

WITS 2001 has a four-year base, four one-year options and an estimated value of $1 billion over its life. GSA estimated it could save federal users in the Washington area $300 million on phone charges over eight years.

The new contract's prices are as much as 40 percent lower than current rates, and any commercial telecom service offered in the national capital region must be available through WITS 2001.

Bell Atlantic will train representatives from each Washington area agency to use the new ordering system. Although initial access will be via the Web at www.wits2001.com, orders will be placed over a separate, secure dedicated or dial-up link that does not cross the Internet.

Contractor Bell Atlantic will go through some simultaneous transitions of its own. Following shareholder and regulatory approval last month, the company announced the consummation of its merger with GTE Corp. effective last Saturday. The combined entity will begin operating under the name Verizon Corp. on Aug. 1.

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