US OKs vendors for defense network

The agency upgrading a global communications network for the U.S. military has approved plans by contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) that would bring in six major subcontractors to supply the equipment underlying the network.

Through its Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) project, the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) plans to enhance the Defense Information System Network with greater bandwidth and more physically diverse routes at about 90 sites in the continental U.S. and the European and Pacific theaters. When the project is finished, most of the sites will be served by an optical mesh network, according to information on the Web site of DISA, based in Arlington, Virginia.

The agency announced Tuesday it has accepted San Diego-based SAIC's system solution for the project. SAIC will subcontract with Ciena Corp. for optical transport system equipment, with Sprint Corp. and Sycamore Networks Inc. for optical digital cross-connect gear and with Cisco Systems Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. unit Qwest Government Services for multiservice provisioning platforms. For IP (Internet Protocol) routers, the contractor determined that Juniper Networks Inc., in Sunnyvale, California, offered the best value technical solution, according to a DISA statement.

Dubhe Beinhorn, vice president of Juniper Federal Systems, in Herndon, Virginia, painted Juniper's selection as a breakthrough against Cisco, which holds the lion's share of the router business worldwide.

"The government is ready for a choice in IP routing. ... Cisco has had a significant incumbent position with the government for the last 10 years," Beinhorn said.

Juniper will provide the IP routers for both the core and the edge of the network, deploying both its M-Series and T-Series platforms, Beinhorn said.The company expects the first orders under the contract to come in early 2004 and most of the project deployments to happen within the following two years. The network will have connections of 10G bps (bits per second) or faster, according to Juniper.

SAIC's multiyear subcontracts with vendors are for indefinite periods and indefinite quantities of gear, according to a DISA statement. The agency did not provide an estimate of the subcontracts' value.

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