Ericsson enters Secure Border competition as 'dark horse'

Swedish-owned Ericsson Inc. is making one of its first major forays into the U.S. homeland security government market by assembling a team to seek a prime contract for the anticipated $2 billion Secure Border Initiative-Net surveillance system.

The Stockholm company, which has a U.S. subsidiary in Plano, Texas, has experience in developing border surveillance systems for members of the European Union, as well as an extensive background in wireless services and commercial technologies, said Douglas Smith, director of government sales for Ericsson.

One of the company's largest government contracts is a border surveillance system for the Finland-Russia border, he said.

For Secure Border, Ericsson is likely to compete against teams led by the largest federal contractors in the United States, including Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co. All three hold a spot at the top of Washington Technology's 2005 Top 100 list of federal prime contractors. Ericsson is not on the list.

All four companies, including Ericsson, have been selected as most qualified by the Homeland Security Department and eligible to bid for Secure Border. Industry sources said Boeing Co. of Chicago also was named most qualified, but that could not be confirmed.

"We're definitely the dark horse," Smith said. "I think that works to our advantage, by the way. The government said it wants off-the-shelf technologies, and that's what we've done, and we've built it."

Ericsson's team, named the American Border Security Group, also includes Computer Sciences Corp. and L-3 Communications Inc. CSC and L-3 also rank near the top on Washington Technology's 2005 Top 100 list.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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