Nortel wins city hall convergence contract

The US City of San Jose this week said it would install a US$5.3 million voice/data network based on Nortel switches and IP PBXs for its new city hall, serving more than 1,700 users.

The contract win for Nortel comes after an US$8 million deal for a Cisco-based network was thrown out after a city audit discovered that Cisco and city IT employees had improper communications during the RFP process. San Jose CIO Wandzia Grycz resigned last August following the city auditor's report.

"Overall, we were able to recover," from having to restart the bidding process, says Edward Shikada, deputy city manager for the City of San Jose. The city is still on track to move employees to a new city hall building on June 9.

"Nortel was able to assure us they could meet our schedule for the procurement of equipment" and installation, Shikada says.

The audit of the Cisco network bid found that city IT staff worked closely with Cisco for technology selection, which is against city regulations during a contract bidding process. Cisco engineers and account managers worked with the city's IT staff to design network requirements that would only allow Cisco-based LAN, VoIP and security gear to be used, the report said. This resulted in only Cisco-certified network integrators to be considered to bid for the project.

With the new Nortel-based contract, the vendor is challenged with a short turnaround; it must have the network up and running by June 9, when the new city hall is due to open. If the date is not met, Nortel will owe the city US$20,000 per day. The deal also takes into account project cost overruns, with a total project cost limit of US$6.2 million. A US$1.6 million chunk of the deal will go towards one year of managed services from Nortel, where the company's staff will assist city IT staff with day-to-day management of the network.

Cisco and Siemens were also considered for the project, Shikada says. The city chose Nortel because it was able to provided its own voice and data gear, whereas Siemens could only provide the VoIP side. The Nortel bid also came in under the bid of Cisco-supplier SBC, he adds.

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