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Contractor vows to clear problems from emergency wireless network

The company trying to hang on to its $2 billion contract to construct a statewide emergency wireless communications network says it will resolve all the issues raised by the state last month.

If, after rounds of initial testing in Erie and Chautauqua counties, the state does not award the final deal to M/A-COM, the state could have a legal problem, the company suggests.

"Although we are confident that it should not be necessary, we will, if need be, take all necessary steps to protect our legal rights," M/A-COM President Chuck Nougherty said in a written statement to a state panel overseeing the project.

The company has until Thursday to correct 19 flaws the state Office for Technology cited last month in what was considered the possible beginning of the end of the M/A-Com contract. M/A-COM officials insisted they remained confident that the final issues will be resolved and the state will give its final approval.

The wireless network has been under discussion for a decade to improve communications among emergency services agencies. Efforts accelerated after communication breakdowns among first responders during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

During tests of the system in Western New York, Erie County officials complained of numerous problems, including faulty equipment and communication lapses in many areas. M/A-COM said that 17 of 19 problems cited by the state were resolved earlier this month and all will be fixed by Thursday.

At an advisory board meeting involving various government agencies, state officials said that if M/A-COM certifies that it has overcome the 19 problems, the state would begin testing those solutions Nov. 3. If the state is satisfied, local agencies will have a chance to begin their own tests Dec. 2.

The other obstacle is the state budget: Can the state afford to move ahead with the expensive project when Gov. David A. Paterson is trying to cut $2 billion in state spending by the end of next month?


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