WASHINGTON — A new contracting vehicle to provide satellite communications terminals and services primarily to U.S. military customers has six companies, among them two defense goliaths, competing for $5 billion in potential business.
The terminal-ordering vehicle is called the World Wide Satellite Services (WWSS) program, and is administered by the military’s Project Manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems office. The companies that have qualified to compete for business under the program are: Boeing Co. of Chicago; General Dynamics SatCom Technologies of Duluth, Ga.; DataPath Inc. of Duluth; DSCI of Eatontown, N.J.; Globecomm Systems of Hauppauge, N.Y.; and TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) of Annapolis, Md.
The program came about because the military has been forced to make a number of urgent purchases of satellite communications terminals in recent years, and wanted a long-term arrangement for procuring this hardware at a better price in the future, according to Arthur Reiff, deputy program manager for the Project Manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems office.
The WWSS program differs from the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Defense Information Systems Network Satellite Transmission Service-Global contracting vehicle in that it is geared toward terminals rather than commercial satellite bandwidth , Reiff said.
Through the five-year WWSS contracting vehicle, the government can order a variety of terminals, such as Ka-band, Ku-band or L-band products. Reiff expects military users will be responsible for at least 75 percent of the business . In the month since the vehicle became active, all of the users have been military, he added.
Individual terminal production orders are competitively awarded among the WWSS contractors on an as-needed basis, Reiff said.
Boeing and General Dynamics are far larger than the other WWSS contractors, but representatives of DataPath, DSCI and TCS each said they expect to capture at least one sixth of the business under the program. For TCS, the WWSS program could generate more revenue than any other contract in the company’s history, said Tim Lorello, TCS senior vice president and chief marketing officer. TCS, which posted $102 million in revenue last year, typically serves as a subcontractor to larger companies, he said.
“This is a huge win for DataPath as a company,” Andy Mullins, DataPath’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview Oct. 4. He noted that the company brings in about $237 million in revenue yearly, and that the WWSS program could drive this figure significantly higher . “Being recognized as a prime contractor on a program as large as WWSS is just a phenomenal repositioning for us in this market.”
DSCI made getting into the tent of a large-scale contracting vehicle one of its major goals for the year, according to John McNamara, vice president of business development for the company, which does about 95 percent of its business with the military.
The vendors said they will distinguish themselves in different ways in the bidding process for individual WWSS terminal awards.
“I think what makes us unique in this area is that we’re not tied to any specific terminal or terminal vendor,” Robert Hedinger, DSCI’s program manager for WWSS, said in a phone interview Oct. 5.
Mullins said DataPath’s strengths are fast delivery — typically within 120 days of order — and price flexibility. Lorello touted TCS’s ability to tailor its equipment to the customer’s specific needs.
Boeing, in a brief statement provided by company spokesman Joe Tedino , said its quick reaction time will make it competitive for WWSS terminal orders.
Globecomm spokesman Fred Dugourd did not respond to questions by press time. Calls and e-mails to General Dynamics’ press office were not returned.