At the end of July, the U.S. General Services Administration announced the names of the 10 telecommunications service providers and integrators awarded contracts under the agency's Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

Although the decision came to pass with little fanfare outside the industry, the EIS contract is a historic decision that represents how the federal government envisions telecommunications for decades to come.

What does the GSA EIS contract mean?

Essentially, EIS aggregates many discrete contracts involving telecommunications, information technology and infrastructure into a single integrated vehicle.

Bundled network solutions contracts such as Networx Universal, Networx Enterprise, the Washington Interagency Telecommunications Systems (WITS 3) and Regional Local Service Agreements (LSA), while valuable when signed, have introduced significant complexity into the asset acquisition process by segregating services that have since blended naturally in the greater market.

As FierceTelecom noted, EIS also aims to migrate the federal telecommunications standard away from traditional time-division multiplexing (TDM) transmission and toward IP-based services such as broadband and SD-WAN.

With flexibility, innovation, price and optimization all in mind, the GSA has effectively reimagined how the government invests in integrated telecom services domestically and internationally, including how it shops for – among other things – wireless, cloud and managed cybersecurity solutions, as well as service-related labor.

Details on the scope of EIS

According to GSA reports, the EIS is a 15-year multivendor contract worth as much as $50 billion. For perspective, federal agencies currently spend about $2.2 billion annually on network services purchased through its previous contracts. Although those vehicles had shorter periods of performance than EIS – at most, Networx at 10 years – and were scheduled to end earlier this year, GSA negotiated extensions until 2020. By then, the GSA will have fully transitioned to EIS as the core network services vehicle.

Businesses awarded include incumbent providers AT&T, BT Federal, Centurylink and Verizon, as well as competitive providers Granite Telecommunications, Level 3 Communications and MetTel. The GSA also awarded federal contracts to telecom integrators for the first time ever: Core Technologies, Harris Corporation and MicroTech.

We'd like to take a moment to congratulate all the winners, especially the integrators, for earning such an incredible opportunity. EIS is a major turning point in how the federal government bids for services, and the winners are every bit a part of history in the making. The inclusion of integrators demonstrates that the GSA and other agencies understand the importance of a convergent perspective when examining or constructing a multinational, 21st-century telecommunications system.

But make no mistake, we're not exclusively talking about networks here. In our experience, although network infrastructure usually represents the largest line item on federal invoices, telecom billing usually sits at No. 2. Any integrator seeking Billing as a Service or fully integrated billing and operations support systems should consider IDI Billing Solutions a top contender for several reasons:

Our commitment to a US-based data center

We host our SSAE 16-audited data center on American soil. Domestic hosting ensures our partners receive the best and safest services as defined by the nation's leading compliance reporting authorities.

IDI verifies standard operating procedures related to how efficiently proprietary data is accessed in accordance with best practices. We also monitor data integrity, authorization pertaining to changes and end-to-end system security.

Our award-winning tax-integrated B/OSS solution

As previously discussed, integration is a noteworthy theme permeating EIS. What better way to continue that theme than choosing a B/OSS that already celebrates those ideals?

CostGuard­® includes a fully integrated tax database managed by our team of experts who specialize in telecom taxation. This module was built to handle the nuance of U.S. tax code as it applies to today's communication service providers. Every month, we update our database with all recent changes to tax compliance, which then applies these changes to billing and reporting functionalities without any effort expended by users.

Integrators and CSPs shouldn't just talk about the power of telecom convergence – they should live it by partnering with IDI Billing Solutions. Check out more information on CostGuard and its integrating tax engine, as well as IDI's secure, optimized SaaS capabilities. You can also click the link below to download our e-book, "The Pillars of Next Gen Telecom Billing: 5 Reasons to Choose IDI Billing Solutions."