Input sought on Integrated Wireless Network plan

Integrated Wireless Network Web site

Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security department officials are seeking feedback on a recently issued draft statement of objectives for an interoperable, nationwide wireless communications system.

The document, which broadly outlines the goals for the Integrated Wireless Network (IWN), will lead to the release of a request for proposals later this year.

Through IWN, officials from the three departments have established a joint program office to consolidate and modernize the various outdated and inadequate communications systems across the country. Such a system will reduce developmental and operational costs and improve service for users, officials say.

They envision a seamless, secure and reliable system serving 80,000 law enforcement users from those three departments at about 2,500 sites, including coverage in major metropolitan areas, on highways, at land and coastal border areas, and at ports of entry.

Although IWN will mainly support federal users and their missions, it will link to state and local law enforcement systems. Officials are conducting a program in Seattle to test the initiative's technical features and project and logistics management.

"To meet these challenges, the current IWN design is based on a [VHF], Project 25 trunked system utilizing a packet switched Internet Protocol backbone. Additionally, the system design provides for encrypted communications," according to the statement of objectives. "The network presently is based on land mobile radio services and may be complemented by commercial wireless service solutions as discussed in the high-level system design."

The network integration contract, a five-year deal with an option for another five years, would include planning, designing, building, deploying, operating and maintaining a system that could cost upwards of $10 billion, according to the statement of objectives. The voice and data communications system would also include transmission of data, files, streaming video and images, as well as the addition of other applications in the future.

Officials are planning a two-phase procurement strategy starting with an open competition followed by a second phase of due diligence with selected vendors. They tentatively plan to make an award next spring.

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