Verizon protests $750 million Defense high-speed network award to CenturyLink

Mark Lennihan/AP

The department’s research network will operate at speeds of 112 gigabits per second.

Verizon Business filed a protest late Friday against the award of a $750 million contract earlier this month by the Defense Information Systems Agency to CenturyLink for a high-speed network that supports researchers and engineers using Defense Department supercomputers, Nextgov has learned.

Ralph White, managing associate general counsel for procurement law at the Government Accountability Office confirmed the protest had been filed, but said he had few details as the full file had not yet been forwarded to him by the GAO clerk’s office.

DISA awarded the Defense Research Engineering Network III contract to CenturyLink on June 8 in a contest that pitted the company against both Verizon and Sprint. Worldcom, acquired by Verizon in 2005, won the original DREN contract in 2002 after a fierce bidding battle that included two protests.

The current DREN operates at speeds from 45 megabits per second to 2.488 gigabits per second. DISA wants the new network to have peak speeds close to 50 times faster -- 112 gigabits per second.

DREN III will provide direct fiber-optic connections for researchers and engineers in 200 locations to hook them up to Defense supercomputers as the network component of the Pentagon’s High-Performance Computing Modernization Program.

White said GAO would rule on the protest by Sept. 24.