Magazine article National Defense

Breaking Free: First Responders to End Radio Market Monopolies

Magazine article National Defense

Breaking Free: First Responders to End Radio Market Monopolies

Article excerpt

The 88 cities of Los Angeles County have banded together to end a long-standing business model that forces them to upgrade first responder radio systems at the whim of vendors.

The practice of selling closed-architecture systems has favored a small group of public safety radio manufacturers for decades, said former city of Los Angeles assistant police chief Michael Bostic, who now works for Raytheon as its director of public safety solutions.

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A joint powers agreement signed by the cities will create the Los Angeles Regional Interoperability Communications System, which is designed to bring an open architecture system--commonly used in the commercial mobile phone market--to police departments.

Just as consumers can choose any brand of mobile phone they want, police and fire departments want the same options, Bostic said. The municipalities created an independent board that will oversee the process and remain free of interference from city councils. It issued a request for proposals in April and an award for the $600 million contract is expected as early as December, he said.

It will be the largest public safety network in the world, Bostic claimed.

Motorola, Harris and EF Johnson Technologies, who dominate the public sector radio market, are expected to compete to build the system. One of these manufacturers may win the contract, but the award will not include the equipment. The vendors will have to compete with each other to sell the handheld and mobile radios to the 88 cities and their respective public safety departments. …

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