Navy begins cost studies on voice component of NMCI

The Navy has begun efforts to figure out how it will integrate voice services into the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

The service has established a working group to review the cost of adding voice service to NMCI, which has rolled out data services to more than 60,000 users. Defense Department officials have approved the transition of 310,000 computers, and work recently began to include the Marine Corps on the network.

'We're figuring out how we're spending and what we're spending,' said Capt. Chris Christopher, staff director for NMCI. 'We're doing cost studies on what we're spending on phones now.'

The Navy issued a request for proposals to NMCI contractor EDS Corp. last month, asking the company to suggest cost-effective models for the voice component of the $8.82 billion NMCI contract, said Debra Streufert, principal contracting officer in the NMCI director's office.

The site reviews are similar to those the Navy conducted a few years ago for NMCI computer seat services and products. The NMCI working group has been visiting remote locations to gather information about Navy telephone systems and how much the service spends on voice services.

The results have been inconsistent, Christopher said. For example, one site might have 40 or 50 private branch exchange systems when four would suffice, he said. Also, the Navy is taking a long look at voice over IP telephony, Christopher said.

'As VOIP grows, fewer [land-line systems] will be needed,' said Cmdr. Joseph Spruill, the Navy's business and financial manager. 'There will always be a requirement for some PBXs. If you need to talk to people not within your IP network, there will still need to be some technology answers.'

Christopher, Spruill and Streufert hosted a media briefing last month in Arlington, Va., on NMCI budget figures. President Bush has requested $1.59 billion for NMCI in fiscal 2004, up from $1.1 billion this year. The additional funding would cover an increase in seat services and contractor incentives.

After the 360,000-plus data seats for NMCI are cut over, which EDS plans to finish early next year, the Navy and the vendor will begin work on the enterprise voice and video components, Navy officials said.


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