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1/15/2009
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N.Y. Terminates $2 Billion Statewide Public Safety Network

The wireless network was planned to link public-safety agencies across the state from the tip of Long Island to Niagara Falls.

New York Gov. David Paterson's office on Thursday terminated the state's $2 billion Statewide Wireless Network (SWN) after years of delay and recriminations between New York and vendor M/A-com.

In an announcement, the state's Chief Information Officer and the Office for Technology said M/A-COM "has failed to deliver a satisfactory and acceptable public-safety communications network and is in default of the contract."

The decision had been expected as the squabbling between the state and M/A-COM reached a climax last summer when State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli issued a report maintaining the network didn't "work right" and shouldn't proceed. M/A-COM, through its law firm, had charged the firm was in compliance with the contract specifications and that the state was using technical issues to cancel the contract when the real reasons for the anticipated cancellation were political and financial pressures.

The state said it exercised its right to terminate the contract for cause and presented a demand for $50 million "without delay." Because of the drawn-out arguments between the two sides before the termination, it's likely there will be litigation over the network deployment.

While M/A-COM, a unit of Tyco Electronics, has had various networking contracts with the state since 1960, the main contract for SWN began in 2005. SWN was planned to link public-safety agencies across the state from the tip of Long Island to Niagara Falls, and the termination notice means the state has no current concrete plans for a statewide public-safety network.

"The technology New York settled on when the project started was really in its sunset days compared to IP-related technology," said wireless network expert Craig Settles of Successful.com in an e-mail. "By the time you rev up and start deploying a project that huge, years have already passed before you barely get out of the gate."

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