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Feds to drop $3 billion on new radios

The Homeland Security Department has inked a potential $3 billion contract for tactical communications to support the entire department, along with the White House and the Interior, Justice and State departments, DHS officials announced this week.

Thirty large and small businesses, including Motorola Solutions Inc., Affigent, AT&T, Eyak Technology, Thales Communications, Patriot Towers and Unisys Corp. (the full list appears at the end of this story), will divvy up the award during the five-year work period. The vendors will fulfill orders for radio upgrades, support the agencies' existing technologies and offer ways of making communications systems more compatible, according to an October 2011 contractor solicitation.

"DHS seeks to establish a multivendor approach to implementing fully interoperable solutions to support mission-critical public safety communications," the notice states.

The idea is by managing a single, big contract, Homeland Security will achieve economies of scale. The agreement will "enable the department to access, as they occur, technological advances and new business practices that may increase productivity, efficiency and/or reduce costs while leveraging DHS' departmentwide buying power to obtain the lowest available prices," Homeland Security officials stated.

The offerings will include portable and mobile radios; control and base stations; and software. Repeaters, routers and other supporting infrastructure also are part of the deal. The services provided will include engineering, installation and testing, among other operational and maintenance functions.

The suppliers, who were named Wednesday, must add new hardware and software to their catalogs as soon as they become commercially available. In some instances, maintaining existing systems will mean the technologies must be compatible with both wireless networks and land mobile radios and able to communicate with certain Motorola systems.

The solicitation asked that vendors use digital encryption and newer, advanced encryption standards in equipment that transmits classified information. The secure equipment also must be able to communicate with devices that are Project 25-compatible -- a set of radio communications standards public safety agencies use throughout all levels of government to jointly aid in emergencies.

Border Patrols agents in the Southwest have been frustrated by coverage gaps in their digital radio transmissions, according to some CBP managers, who added drug cartels have more repeaters and superior technology in some cases.

Under the new contract, agencies will decide on specific system requirements when they make delivery orders.

The selected companies, as they appear on the solicitation, are:

Motorola Solutions Inc.

Affigent LLC

AT&T

Eyak Technology LLC

General Dynamics-One Source LLC

Government Acquisitions Inc.

Harris IT Services Corp.

Lockheed Martin Corp.

Nakuuruq Solutions LLC

Procom Corp.

Qinetiq North America Operations

SAIC

Thales Communications Inc.

Daniels Electronics

ACG Systems Inc.

AEG

Allied Technology

Arinc Engineering Services LLC

CACI-ISS Inc.

Catalyst Communications Technologies Inc.

Chartis Consulting Corp.

EF Johnson Co.

IT Tech Direct

Karco Enterprises Inc.

Midland Radio Corp.

Patriot Towers, Inc. dba Team Patriot

Relm Wireless Corp.

Rivada Port Graham Solutions LLC

Soft Tech Consulting Inc.

Unisys Corp.

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