AT&T scores $175M network modernization deal with U.S. DOT

AT&T snagged a massive 12-year, $175 million contract to help the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) upgrade its IP and voice infrastructure, a deal one executive called “critically important” to helping the agency prepare for the future.

Chris Smith, VP of civilian and shared services for AT&T’s public sector business, told Fierce he expects the contract to yield a steady stream of work for the operator over the next decade, noting modernization “is not one event…it’s a series of lifetime journeys as you go along.”

Smith said the deal will essentially cover everything involved in the flow of data across the DOT’s network, from data centers and cloud applications all the way to the end user.

Specifically, AT&T will provide the DOT with virtual private networking and secure cloud technology, as well as IP-based voice services and security features including a network-based firewall and managed trusted internet protocol services. These will help support demand for remote working capabilities and the rollout of new IP-based apps.

Smith explained AT&T’s software-defined networking capabilities will effectively allow the DOT to privately extend its network into any large public cloud, be it Amazon Web Services, Microsoft or IBM, to provide “flexible bandwidth” when and where needed.

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He added the operator expects the contract to yield activity around SD-WAN as well, noting there’s an opportunity to “utilize the over-the-top internet capacity as well as the MPLS to meet their demands as they go forward.”

“We expect a good deal of uptake," Smith said. "We’ve seen that throughout the market over the last couple of years...government is just coming into that space, we’ve seen some of it but we expect to see a healthy demand for it moving forward here.”

Taken together, Smith noted these upgrades will help ensure the network “not only meets their needs within their large campus-based locations and branch offices around the country, but really out into the field as they do their important work.”

He added “we view it as a wireless and wireline networking capability for the department,” since the platform it’s putting in place could eventually be extended through LTE or 5G “to really give that high-speed, secure, and, with 5G, low-latency capability to do some of the really innovative things we see coming at us.”

DOT is the umbrella agency which oversees a range of organizations, including the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and Maritime Administration, among others. It has nearly 55,000 employees nationwide.

The contract marks AT&T’s latest win in the public sector. In December 2020 it scored a $92 million contract to provide mobility services to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, after inking a deal to provide connectivity to the U.S. Army in October 2020.