AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon and MetTel win spots on GSA’s $50B EIS contract

AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, and MetTel are among a group of 10 companies to secure a seat on the General Services Administration’s (GSA) 15-year, $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract.

As the follow on contract to the Networx contract, EIS was issued nearly two years after GSA issued the request for proposals.

EIS replaces the existing 10-year Networx contract.

Federal agencies currently spend approximately $2 billion per year on network infrastructure, according to the GSA. Due to its complexity, the Networx contract was extended until 2020.

RELATED: AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink brace for GSA's upcoming EIS telecom contract

EIS is a solutions-based contract addressing all aspects of federal information technology, telecommunications, and infrastructure requirements. Federal agencies can realize the benefits of the contract through task orders for specific projects or needs that represent incremental steps in the government’s digital transformation.

Being incumbent providers, prime Networx contract holders such as AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon are in a prime position to serve the EIS contract.

Verizon, for one, will offer what it says will be a comprehensive and evolutionary suite of integrated services to agencies, including everything from SDN, to 4G wireless technologies, IoT and connected machines, managed network and security, and advanced FedRamp secure hosted voice and contact center services.

“As an approved EIS contract provider, Verizon will be able to leverage our global enterprise and government experience to offer a comprehensive suite of solutions,” said Mike Maiorana, SVP of public sector markets for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, in a statement provided to FierceTelecom. “Additionally, as a leading provider on Networx and WITS3 today, we have intimate understanding of agency solution requirements and their diverse missions, and are able to deliver programs tailored to meet their evolving needs.”

Focus on competition

But incumbent players are only one part of the vision GSA set with the EIS contract.

Besides, the big four voice, video and data providers, GSA awarded spots to Harris, British Telecom, MicroTech Telecommunications, Granite Telecommunications, Core Telecom Systems and MetTel.

For the first time, the GSA included non-traditional communications companies such as systems integrators and communications companies classified as businesses with under 500 employees in its selection pool.

EIS Contractors  Type
AT&T incumbent provider
BT Federal incumbent provider
Centurylink  incumbent provider
Core Technologies integrator
Granite Telecommunications, competitive provider
Harris Corporation integrator
Level 3 Communications competitive provider
MetTel competitive provider
MicroTech  integrator
Verizon    incumbent provider

MetTel, a facilities-based competitive carrier covering 165 countries, has become adept at accessing services of the four largest US carriers and aggregate them into one converged network, regardless of the locally dominant carrier. This carrier integration capability enables MetTel to provide more coverage than any other single network provider.

Diana Gowen, federal practice lead for MetTel, told FierceTelecom that the amount of participants invited to EIS sets it apart from earlier contract vehicles.

A 30-plus year government communications expert, Gowen herself led not only CenturyLink’s bid for Networx, but also MCI (now Verizon) bid for the earlier FTS 2000 and FTS 2001 contracts.

“The number of competitors is much much broader,” Gowen said. “You have system integrators, who have entered the fray this time, small businesses, including some like MetTel that are facilities-based, and resellers.”

Eyeing SD-WAN, IP services

A big part of the EIS contract is helping federal agencies transition from TDM to IP-based services.

The contract has a pricing construct that the GSA says are a hybrid model. This hybrid model takes into account the fact that major telcos like AT&T are migrating away from legacy copper and TDM-based technologies to all IP and fiber.

As part of EIS, GSA outlined over 13 service areas it require contractors to cover: data, voice, contact center, data center service, cloud, wireless, commercial satellite, managed service, service related equipment, service related labor, cable and wiring, access arrangement, and national security and emergency preparedness.

“EIS has more breadth from the perspective of being to put together solutions,” Gowen said. “In Networx, they called that so many unique products and here you have managed mobility, managed security, managed security, MPLS data Ethernet, but SD-WAN was not called out,” Gowen said. “Broadband services are also new and were never contemplated in earlier contract and a big emphasis on getting away from traditional TDM voice to an IP-based voice world.”

Like other sectors, the public sector is also looking at SD-WAN.

However, the contract which was written at a time when that service was not actively being marketed and delivered by service providers.

“SD-WAN is not on the schedule yet and once it’s awarded we’ll work to get that on there,” said Ed Fox, VP of network services for MetTel. “It was newer when we were working through this.”