Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago's western suburbs, the Department of Energy's largest research center, has achieved interoperable communications between the lab's personnel, area emergency supervisors (AES) and local fire departments by pairing Raytheon JPS's ACU-1000 interoperability solution with Nextel's Direct Connect push-to-talk service.

Argonne had determined that outfitting several hundred employees with a trunked portable radio was too costly, the companies said. The newly deployed system not only lets disparate radios communicate through the ACU-1000, it also translates the Direct Connect audio stream between the different radio systems and enhances the transmission via JPS's digital signal processing technology.

In addition, AES users can be instantly connected to the emergency talk group on the laboratory's trunking system by dialing the Nextel number assigned to the ACU-1000, the companies said.