Lockheed Martin Corp. won a contract potentially worth $3 billion to provide managed network services to the U.S. Postal Service.

Under the Universal Computing Connectivity program, Lockheed will provide data, voice, video, wireless and managed security services to the Postal Service's 37,000 locations and integrate all its data communication networks, including wide and local area networks, into a single network service. The company also will supply all related hardware and software.

The Postal Service has at least 10 contracts for network services that are being merged into the new contract, said Larry Wills, the Postal Service's manager of distributed computing.

The project will give the Postal Service a nationwide billing and ordering system that is expected to save 20 to 30 percent of the $100 million a year the service spends on telecom services, Wills said.

"We're putting systems in place to make it easier for people to do business with us . . . and to control costs and keep them at a minimum," said Jim Quirk, a Postal Service spokesman.

The contract is significant as part of a trend. Large systems integrators are winning government telecommunications and network business that previously was the prime domain of telecommunications companies. Lockheed Martin beat out Sprint Corp. and MCI Inc., the current provider of the Postal Service's data network, for the contract.

"It's an industry-wide move where customers start to blend telecom services with data content," said Judy F. Marks, president of Lockheed Martin's distribution technologies business. The Bethesda company's Owego, N.Y, division won the six-year contract, which has four three-year options.

Lockheed Martin's team includes AT&T Corp., BellSouth Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Hughes Network Systems Inc., Qwest Communications International Inc., SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. They will provide telephone service, networking, communications, information technology infrastructure, security technologies and field engineering.

Lockheed has worked with the Postal Service for more than 40 years, providing it with mail automation, address recognition and material handling systems, Marks said. Much of the new work will be performed near the Postal Service customer headquarters in Washington, and in Raleigh, N.C.

Managed network services are not a new business for Lockheed. The defense giant provides similar services to other federal government customers, such as the Defense, Energy and Housing and Urban Development departments. Overall, the company manages about 3,000 programs and provides $8 billion worth of information technology services annually.

With the Postal Service contract in hand, Marks said, Lockheed plans to pursue at least two other major federal network systems contracts -- the General Services Administration's multibillion-dollar FTS Networx contract for telecom and IT services across all federal departments, and the Justice Department's Integrated Wireless Network contract.

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer with Washington Technology. For more details on this and other technology contracts, go to www.washingtontechnology.com.

The Universal Computing Connectivity program will link the Postal Service's 37,000 locations, such as this post office in Elgin, Tex.