New York turns to industry for complex wireless project

New York is relying on the private sector to put in place its statewide wireless network.

"New York chose right up front not to be its own systems integrator or general contractor," said Jim Dillon, New York chief information officer and chairman of the project's advisory board.

New York won't do the systems integration itself because of the complexity of designing and constructing a modern wireless radio system for such an enormous area. The state's procurement strategy "is to place all of the responsibility for systems integration and implementation on the vendor," Dillon said.

The move is one of several hard lessons learned by its neighbor to the immediate south. Pennsylvania chose to install a statewide radio system itself five years ago and is still struggling to complete the project.

New York awarded a 20-year contract earlier this year to M/A-Com Inc. of Lowell, Mass., a unit of Harrisburg, Pa.-based Tyco Electronics Corp. The negotiations of the final terms of the huge deal are expected to conclude later this year, Dillon said. He declined to provide a potential value, but the contract is reportedly worth $1 billion.

The wireless network will be deployed in a series of regional implementations that are expected to take about five years, he said. The first region will go live in two years.

Another thing New York will do differently is to have local governments involved in the project when it begins, Dillon said. "We've worked very hard bringing them into the loop," he said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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