New York awards $2 billion public safety radio communications deal

New York State Statewide Wireless Network

New York state officials have awarded a $2 billion contract to M/A-COM to implement, operate and maintain a statewide interoperable public safety wireless radio network, which company officials said is the largest communications project awarded in the United States.

M/A-COM, a business unit of Tyco Electronics, will lead a team that includes General Dynamics and Alcatel to develop an IP-based network platform integrating voice and data.

The company’s representatives expect the M/A-COM team to complete the Statewide Wireless Network (SWN) in less than five years and provide access to about 65,000 state and local government users. The state will finance the project during a 20-year period.

The price includes network design, materials, construction, towers, shelters, fixed assets, network equipment and finance charges. It also includes the costs of site leases, operation and maintenance during 20 years, in addition to any future upgrades.

“SWN will provide the vital interoperable communications backbone first responders at the local, state and federal level need to effectively respond to and mitigate any type of hazard including acts of terrorism,” said James Dillon, the state’s chief information officer, in a prepared statement.

SWN will be based on M/A-COM’s Voice, Interoperability Data and Access network platform, which uses a system-of-systems approach built on a unified IP architecture. Company representatives said the platform will provide access to the 700-800 MHz spectrum, coverage inside buildings through the use of mobile systems and coverage in other areas – using VHF overlays – where radio communications are difficult to obtain.

The company’s NetworkFirst product will connect all existing systems through the IP architecture. The product was recently designated as a qualified anti-terrorism technology under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act, which provides liability protection if the product fails during a terrorist attack.

“We have negotiated a contract with the prime contractor M/A-COM that has significant financial safeguards to protect the state’s investment and that ensures New York state will have a modern and comprehensive emergency radio system for our first responders,” said Michael McCormack, director of the state’s technology office, in a press release.

According to a state-issued release, M/A-Com has sole liability for contract performance, assumes full risk and capital outlay, can make payments only with successful performance and acceptance, and has a $100 million letter of credit. The state can also buy out the system in whole or in part throughout the term of the contract. The state can also terminate the contract if the company fails to meet certain criteria.

The project will be phased in through regional implementations in Erie and Chautauqua counties and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They will test the performance, compatibility and interoperability among a variety of existing radio systems. SWN will be the state’s first comprehensive upgrade of the radio system in more than 30 years.

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