US awards $48b telecom contract

US carriers AT&T, Qwest Communications and Verizon were awarded the government's largest telecommunications contract ever, a 10-year deal worth up to $48 billion, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the contract winners, who beat out Sprint Nextel, don't simply split a pool of money. They now have to compete with each other for the various telecom needs of dozens of federal agencies, the General Services Administration announced, the report said.

The contract covers voice, video and data services and technologies for as many as 135 agencies operating in 190 countries, the report said.
Several major departments, including Homeland Security and Treasury, have already signed up, it added.

The report said while AT&T, Qwest, and Verizon gained an important and deep-pocketed client, the announcement was a huge blow to Sprint, analysts said, because it has been providing telecom services to the federal government for nearly 20 years.

While current GSA officials would not say why Sprint lost out, Bob Woods, a former official at the agency who now works as a consultant, surmised that Sprint could not meet the low prices of its competitors, the report said.