MBTA to get new communications

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

M/A-COM, Inc. will get $25.7 million to develop a new communications system for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The transportation authority, which operates the nation's oldest transportation system in the Boston metropolitan area, recently agreed to the contract for two-way, 800 MHz voice and data communications. Slated to go live by spring 2005, it will link MBTA supervisors, police, and bus and subway operators. They currently use different systems that are 10 to 20 years old, said Mary Doherty, northeast area director with M/A-COM, a business unit of Tyco Electronics, based in Lowell, Mass.

Doherty said the 18-month contract includes:

* — A network with a ProVoice 20-channel digital simulcast radio.

* — Mobile and portable radios.

* — Computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle location systems, which are being developed with Germany-based Siemens AG.

The transportation authority will compete a separate contract for system installation sometime next year, Doherty said.

MBTA is just one of many transit systems around the country with communications systems that don't work together, Doherty said. Interoperability has emerged as a primary need for governments across the country, although some states and regions have taken steps to improve their communications platforms through costly new digital systems or more inexpensive patches that connect existing networks.

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