Trends in Federal Network Connections

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 7, 2015

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14. Read previous posts at  http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

Connectivity is the lifeblood of government. Government investment in improving and maintaining basic connectivity may be a small part of our IT budgets, but an important one. Reliable and flexible connections remain vital as the mobile workforce grows.

Connections II is the GSA contract agencies often come to when they need to purchase support and equipment to provide connectivity from the user’s desktop to the point of interconnection of the customer’s network service providers.

Connections II Customer Buying Trends

Federal agencies obligated $124 million to campus and building networking solutions through Connections II and issued 133 task orders in FY 2014.

What Connections II purchase data tells us is agencies need continued support and resources in this area. Five service types available from Connections II make up almost 80% of demand.

Technology Solutions Percentage of Total
Voice Operations and Billing Consolidation 23%
Unified Communications Expansion 20%
General Support 15%
Telecom Upgrades 11%
Network Maintenance 10%

Customers predominantly look to acquire more consolidated support as it offers advantages for lowering costs and reducing redundancies.

Second, 20% of Connections II customers are seeking to merge Voice/Data/Video (Unified Communications). The emphasis is on need to communicate from any device, anywhere, any time.

Looking for Operational Savings over Time

Connections II customers are receiving solutions that save their operational budget over time.

For example, telecom operations, billing management, and VoIP/UC modernization for one agency is estimated to save $30 million over 3 years over existing operational costs. Another agency is performing a nationwide Unified Communications Convergence upgrade with an estimated operational savings of $25 million over 5 years.

Connections II has always had strong customer loyalty with most projects coming from repeat customers. Now, we’ve added a tiered fee potential for customers with multiple smaller tasks adding up to significant volume, to further reward these customers.

Orders Increasing Year to Year

Demand for solutions from Connections II is growing year to year. FY 14 obligations represent an increase of 29% in obligations from FY 2013 and 34% from FY 2012.

This growth occurred despite sequestration and the government shutdown for two and half weeks in FY 2014. Local connectivity is a necessity for workforce support, internal and external communications and core administrative activities that every agency needs.

Looking into the future, under Connections II, we expect to see more Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as some customers do not want to own all their systems but instead buy the support.

In the world of wireless, we expect to see more about 802.11x technology, local LAN repeaters/amplifiers, etc. In security, we anticipate the need for new solutions for existing networks as well as future wireless networks.

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