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AT&T wins $167 million, five-year FEMA contract

AT&T is becoming the provider for the “vast majority” of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s telecommunications services, according to the carrier, after being awarded four separate contracts.

Those contracts, which fall under the General Services Administration’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, are worth more than $167 million over five years to modernize and update FEMA’s telecom services, as well as transition

“We’re really proud that we were selected by FEMA to be, really, their primary network provider for the foreseeable future,” said Stacy Schwartz, VP of public sector and FirstNet at AT&T.

FEMA has 10 regional offices and employs more than 20,000 people across the country. AT&T’s work under the four new contracts includes:

-Voice and data services that AT&T says will “[reduce] the agency’s enterprise network footprint” as well as reduce costs while boosting their security and availability. Schwartz said that FEMA is also a “very large” FirstNet customer for mobile services. While this FEMA work doesn’t center on mobile, FirstNet can serve as a back-up service for primary telecommunications services in order to provide resiliency, Schwartz noted.

-Modernizing FEMA’s managed wireless LAN, including upgrades to Wi-Fi 6.

-Updating FEMA’s call center capabilities. FEMA has an extensive network of call centers plus surge or overflow agents and teleworking locations, which serve in-bound calls from disaster survivors; the agency also supports more than 200 technical staff and FEMA Finance Center agents. AT&T will provide FEMA with a “protected, resilient, survivable, and recoverable contact center solution” as well as a path for cloud migration.

-Modernizing the National Wireless Alert System (NAWAS), which Schwartz explains is a 24/7 private-line telephony system that provides voice warnings to federal, state, local, territorial and Tribal government public safety officials around the country. AT&T has provided this service for years and will continue to do so, but Schwartz said that the company’s goal under the new contract will enable it to “transition the NAWAS legacy technologies to newer services available”, with evaluations going on to look at the service becoming more IP-based or potentially bringing in FirstNet services in support of NAWAS.

Schwartz said that the contract deepens AT&T’s relationship with FEMA and covers “a very wide range of services,” from inbound citizen calls to supporting its transition toward IP and the cloud. In addition, she noted, FEMA is heavily involved in public safety response at not only the federal level, but local and state responses. So supporting FEMA’s communications needs as it enables state and local agencies to respond also gives AT&T additional insights about the broader public safety community that it serves via FirstNet.

“This is just so strategic for us, because it gives us insight into how that whole community of interest comes together in … any kind of preparedness or response to a disaster,” Schwartz said. “This is just so strategic for us, because it gives us insight into how that whole community of interest comes together in … any kind of preparedness or response to a disaster,” Schwartz said.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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