AT&T Connects the Tax Man

AT&T , which is pushing its managed network services to overcome
fading long-distance phone business, has landed the Internal Revenue Service
as a customer.

The five-year deal flows through AT&T’s Government Solutions division, based in
Vienna, Va., and could be worth more than $54 million. Losing bidders were
not disclosed.

Under the terms, the telecom giant will design, install and manage a virtual
private network that will replace legacy hardware and software
and standardize communications technology.

More and more, IRS auditors are working from home or agency sites where
they currently may be unable to access the IRS network, AT&T said.

AT&T will provide high-speed access (including cable and DSL) to more than
50,000 remote and traveling IRS workers so they can securely tap agency
applications and information stored in government data centers.

A list of subcontractors who will provide network equipment for the project
was not immediately available.

Jim McGann, an AT&T spokesman, said the company does not disclose how much
business it does with the federal government. However, there is “tremendous
opportunity” because of the public sector’s emphasis on security and
reliability, he told internetnews.com.

This is not the first contract the two have had together. Last year, the IRS awarded
AT&T Government Solutions a contract putting it in charge of the agency’s toll-free numbers.

Bedminster, N.J.-based AT&T competes with MCI, Sprint and
others for large networking and service deals with corporate and government
customers.

These services, along with an aggressive rollout of consumer and business
Voice over Internet Protocol offerings, are key to AT&T’s
strategy.

In recent years, the company’s long-distance revenues have dropped sharply
as customers switched to regional telecoms and national wireless providers,
and more recently VoIP offerings from upstarts like its Garden State
neighbor Vonage.

The IRS has been trying to upgrade its entire IT structure
with the help of Computer Sciences Corp. Earlier this year, both sides detailed
some of the reasons that the massive project has been held up.

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