Verizon Public Sector notches $495M DoD contract

Verizon’s Public Sector unit has earned a $495 million deal from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to deploy switches, routers, firewalls and edge computing capabilities, as well as managed services, to support the DoD’s research and high-performance computing facilities.

At the heart of the deal is what the Verizon and the DoD described in a press release the management of a “next-generation, high-bandwidth, low-latency, Layer 2 wide area network in support of critical research.” The Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) is a high-speed fiber network that connects 200 different Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) laboratories and High Performance Computing (HPC) locations across the U.S. and other countries, the parties stated.

The contract win comes less than two months after Jennifer Chronis, a U.S. Army veteran who had worked for IBM and Amazon Web Services in the past, was named senior vice president of Verizon Public Sector.

“Investments across Verizon’s enterprise business enable the kind of tailored solutions our team will deliver to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Defense Research and Engineering Network,” Chronis said in a statement. “Our managed services solutions will create a next-generation user experience for research teams utilizing the DREN platform while also enhancing security across the network.”

The network is set to provide “guaranteed throughput and latency at speeds of up to 100 Gbps and even 400Gbps,” the press release added. This will allow dispersed research teams to collaborate “in near real time to develop and test big data analyses, artificial intelligence, machine learning and simulations, helping to tackle complex problems from climate change and pandemic response to next generation autonomous defense systems.”

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The federal government contract also comes a year after Microsoft was the surprising and controversial winner of the DoD’s $10 billion JEDI contract. Verizon, along with traditional telcos like AT&T, Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) and Windstream, has long been a provider of telecom gear and services to federal government agencies, though in the last few years these operators have seen more staunch competition from the likes of AWS and Microsoft.