Nonetheless, Mohan is confident that Networx is finally hitting its stride and will be a successful contract for AT&T despite its late start. "I would not characterize Networx as a failure," he adds. "I would characterize it as perhaps a little late in maturing."
The carriers aren't the only ones suffering from the slow transition to Networx, argues Diana Gowen, senior vice president and general manager at CenturyLink. Gowen says agencies have been paying higher telecom bills on the older FTS 2001 contract.
"From a savings-to-the-government perspective, I would have to say this contract has been a failure, but no one on [Capitol] Hill or at [the Office of Management and Budget] has gotten concerned enough to really propel this further," Gowen says. "There are still agencies who have not made decisions, have not transitioned [to Networx] and have not disconnected'' from the more expensive FTS 2001 contract.
Topside Consulting's Woods says that the pricing is good on Networx, but that GSA did not do enough to help agencies transition to the complex contract. So some agencies chose other contracting vehicles because Networx is not mandatory. "People got frustrated with its difficulty and went somewhere else," Woods says.
Another issue that slowed Networx transition was that GSA and the agencies lacked an accurate inventory of network services purchased under the predecessor contract.
"Say we got 10,000 telephone numbers to transition to Networx. We couldn't just do that out of the gate because of the inventory challenges. We had to check that all of the numbers belonged to the agency and weren't a dry cleaner or somebody's home," Mohan says. "Things that sound like they would be easy to transition aren't."
Carriers are urging GSA to change Networx to make it easier for agencies to use when buying complex services to drive up revenues for the second half of the contract.
"For me, it's the next five years that are really going to [show] the success of Networx," says Susan Zeleniak, senior vice president of Verizon Public Sector. "Up until now, mostly what's been done is transition old services to the new contract. ... The big change is going to be from now on how successful we are at doing non-standard services like security, hosting, engineering and design."
Zeleniak would like to see cutting-edge network services such as identity management, cloud-based infrastructure and wireline/wireless integration offered through the mega-deal.