USPS picks Verizon for Networx tasks

The U.S. Postal Service has awarded $16.4 million worth of task orders to Verizon Business to provide voice and data services over the next 10 years under the General Services Administration's Networx Universal contracts.

The largest order is for long distance and calling card voice services for the 166,000 telephone lines serving 34,000 USPS locations. The company also will upgrade about 100 data circuits to an IP multiprotocol label switching network under a separate $6.4 million task order. The company already provides voice services to the agency under the older FTS2001 contract and since 1997 has managed a private USPS network under the Managed Network Services contract.

The task orders announced today amount to only a fraction of the value of the $678.5 million Networx orders awarded to Verizon Business in May by the Homeland Security Department. The company will deploy and manage a worldwide consolidated IP network under the DHS OneNet program. But Verizon Federal group president Susan Zeleniak said she expects Networx activity to hit 'fearsome pitch' over the next three months.

'It's going to be a busy summer in the Networx proposal business,' she said today.

GSA is reviewing more than 40 statements of work from agencies, which are expected to be released to Networx contract winners soon, she said. One reason for the flurry of activity is a Sept. 30 deadline for selecting Networx service providers in order for agencies to qualify for GSA transition credits to help pay for capital expenses in switching from the old FTS2001 contract.

GSA awarded the omnibus Networx Universal contracts in April 2007 to Verizon Business (then MCI Communications Services), AT&T and Qwest Government Services. One month later it awarded the second round of contracts, Networx Enterprise, to Verizon Business, AT&T, Level 3 Communications, Qwest Government Services and Sprint Solutions. The contracts include more than 40 networking and communications services, and most agencies are breaking up the services into separate task orders rather than making a single large procurement as they did under the FTS2001 contracts, Zeleniak said. This has resulted in a slow take-off for Networx.

'A lot of people expected there would be more done by now under Networx,' she said. 'It's been slow to get started.'

However, the speed appears to be picking up as agencies begin looking beyond basic voice and data services to take advantage of services not offered under FTS2001, Zeleniak said. There is a lot of interest in security, mobile services and disaster recovery, she said. 'We see a lot of Networx opportunities doming down the road there.'

Networx already is moving beyond the required specifications established when the contracting process began three years ago, as new equipment and services are being developed and offered.

'We already are offering up modifications to GSA on the contracts,' she said. These include professional services such as telecom management and network engineering, but security services are the hottest. 'We see security as probably the fastest growing area,' with forensics services to examine security breaches being one of the most requested services.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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