Looking to bolster its telecommunications abilities, Texas has awarded AT&T a five-year, $500 million contract to provide the state with a variety of advanced voice and data services, the company announced July 20.

Under the deal, AT&T will provide technology to customers of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) that the company said will more efficiently handle high volume calls, present the latest traffic information to callers and deliver solutions to bridge voice, data and video-conferencing services.

The AT&T deal is part of the re-procurement for the Texas Agency Network Next Generation program (TEX-AN Next Generation), which supports the communications needs of various state agencies, cities, counties, schools and other organizations, and will also receive network services from AT&T.

Overall, the contract could expand to approximately $1 billion over a span of 10 years, depending on the needs of and options exercised by DIR customers. The contract continues a relationship Texas has had with AT&T as a provider of communications services.

“What the AT&T team has done working with the DIR is looking across all of the agency needs, today as well as tomorrow and ensure they have all the emerging services stacked in a toolbox,” said Jodi Chapin, public-sector marketing director of AT&T. “So the agencies, as they start to look at these different areas where they want ... advanced services, can reach in that toolbox and pull [out that] service.”

In addition to AT&T, other vendors that will be providing services to Texas under the TEX-AN Next Generation contract include:

  • Qwest Communications — long distance and toll-free services, Internet service and voice over Internet protocol;
  • Hughes Communications — fixed satellite services as well as small office and home office services;
  • SkyFiber Inc. — wireless broadband services; and
  • Proactive Communications — fixed satellite services.

Thomas L. Johnson, public information officer for the DIR, said the state currently is negotiating with additional vendors, so further details regarding contracts aren’t immediately available. Johnson added that the procurement process will be concluded by Aug. 31.

Karen W. Robinson, chief technology officer of Texas, felt technology upgrades would be instrumental in continuing to provide services around the state.

“We want to help accelerate the state of Texas communications technologies into the 21st century,” Robinson said in a statement. “Advanced technologies can help us dramatically improve the ability of state agencies, academic institutions and government entities to meet the needs of all the state’s constituents quickly and effectively.”

When asked if the contract was a forecast of Texas making a commitment toward a more mobile and accessible work force, Chapin remained noncommittal about Texas specifically, but sees the trend growing nationwide.

“I think that is what we are seeing across the whole public sector,” Chapin said.