Northrop Wins $500M NYC Wireless Contract

By Mel Duvall  |  Posted 2006-09-12 Print this article Print

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman beat out Motorola with a bid to build a wireless broadband public-safety network for New York City.

Northrop Grumman has won a showdown with Motorola for a $500 million contract to build a wireless broadband public-safety network for New York City.

The contract, billed as the most comprehensive network of its kind, will provide the city's emergency services departments with a high-speed network capable of delivering data and video under fail-safe conditions. The network is designed to allow the city's police and fire departments, for example, to download city maps, building plans, and federal and state counter-terrorism reports to their vehicles.

New York's emergency network came under fire in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As firefighters and police converged on the World Trade Center towers, their radio systems were unable to cope. Firefighters were unable to communicate with one another, and investigators found later that the two departments barely spoke to coordinate efforts or share intelligence. One of the results is that many emergency workers in the north tower were unaware that the other tower had collapsed and could not hear urgent messages for them to get out.

In May, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would conduct pilot tests of competing technologies from Northrop and Motorola to construct the new emergency network. Paul Cosgrave, commissioner of New York's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, said Tuesday that after evaluating results of tests from the lower Manhattan pilot, the five-year, $500 million contract had been awarded to Northrop.

"We have specifically designed and engineered a robust, secure, broadband mobile wireless communications solution that significantly streamlines and improves both emergency and normal daily operations," Paul Chelson, Northrop's wireless program manager, said in a statement.

The system will be based on broadband wireless technology known as the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, provided by IPWireless of San Bruno, Calif.

Contributing Editor
Mel Duvall is a veteran business and technology journalist, having written for a variety of daily newspapers and magazines for 17 years. Most recently he was the Business Commerce Editor for Interactive Week, and previously served as a senior business writer for The Financial Post.


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