New York Cancels Statewide Wireless Network

Posted by Sam Churchill on

New York Gov. David A. Paterson’s administration has canceled the state of New York’s $2.1 billion contract to build a statewide wireless network for emergency workers after years of delays and numerous technological snags, reports the NY Times.

Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, the state’s chief technological officer, sent a letter by express mail postmarked last night to the president and lead legal counsel for M/A-COM, a subsidiary of Tyco Electronics that was chosen in 2005 to build the network meant to link first responders across the state.

The letter included a 10-page summary of the deficiencies that M/A-COM did not fix or remedy (pdf).

“We are extremely disappointed M/A-COM has failed to demonstrate the reliability of their OpenSky technology, especially its network and subscriber radios, which are the core of the system,” said Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, Chief Information Officer and Director of the New York State Office for Technology.

“Per the terms of the contract, we have given M/A-COM every opportunity to remediate existing deficiencies. However, the state’s testing concluded M/A-COM is unable to deliver a system that meets the needs of New York State’s first responders as stated in the contract.”

As part of the contract award, M/A-COM was required to furnish the State with an irrevocable SLOC in the amount of $50 million. Based upon M/A-COM’s failure to cure its default under the SWN Contract, the State has presented a demand notice to the financial institution for the payment to the State without delay.

Further, after any draw down, M/A-COM is required to replenish the account to its full value of $50 million and the State may continue these draw downs up to $100 million in total. Since notice of contract award to M/A-COM in April 2004, the State has incurred more than $54 million in project operating expenses.

The termination letter comes after months of growing tension between the state and M/A-COM, which had missed several deadlines to repair its network in two counties upstate, where trials were under way.

With the state facing a yawning fiscal gap, the governor last week was leaning toward shutting the network, which has already cost New York more than $50 million, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

In its letter, the state said it wants to recover the money it has already spent on the project. The state is considering a number of alternative technologies, though it unclear when one or more of them might be selected as a replacement.

The state’s decision to sever ties with M/A-COM is expected to prompt a legal battle. Last week, lawyers from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the firm hired to represent the company, said in a letter to the state that it was “patently obvious” that the state was determined to cancel the contract because of political and financial pressure and was using technical issues as a pretext for the cancellation.

New York’s statewide wireless emergency communications system would not include any construction in the protected wilderness areas of the Adirondacks and Catskills. Tyco International subsidiary, M/A-Com, bid roughly $1 billion for the 20-year contract. They planned to use as few as four towers in the Adirondacks and the Catskills, and none in protected areas.

That was sharply fewer than the bid from Motorola which proposed 400 towers for the project. Motorola’s bid was roughly $3 billion. New York officials said the different approach to building new towers was the major reason for the vast difference in the bids.

In the Tyco proposal, repeaters are an essential element in avoiding the construction of towers. Repeaters are used throughout the country as a standard way of giving greater amplification to the transmissions of hand-held radios.

While VHF radios (at 150 and 450 MHz) cover rugged, thickly forested terrain better, 700 and 800 MHz radios are better in densely populated areas. P-25 radios — with IP-based interoperability — could unite the force. Tyco Electronics’ M/A-COM business won the contract in 2005, the biggest New York technology contract ever awarded.

The statewide network was expected to be completed and fully operational by July 2010.

Related Dailywireless articles include New York’s $2B Statewide Network Close to Canceling, M/A-COM to NY: We’re Good, NY Gives Tyco 45 days to Fix Network, NY State’s Public Service Net: Failure?, NY State’s Wireless Net Broken?, New York State’s $1B Wireless Net, Topoff 4 Begins in Portland, FCC: What’s Wrong with 700MHz Public Service?, Public Safety: We Like 700MHz Public/Private Plan, Hearings on 700MHz Auction, TerreStar Roams with AT&T, Skyterra/MSV Get $500M, MSS: Battle Space, Oregon’s $500 Million Statewide Wireless Network, General Dynamics Wins IWN Contract and Joint Commecial/Muni Proposed for 700Mhz.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 4:35 pm .

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