Public safety communications vendor M/A-COM has certified that the New York Statewide Wireless Network is ready for operational testing in the initial project area. Testing that will decide the fate of the $2 billion contract was scheduled to begin last month.

The New York State Office for Technology (OFT) announced that M/A-COM declared the network ready for operational testing in Erie and Chautauqua counties, citing minimum on-road coverage of 98.38% in both areas, OFT spokesman Karl Felsen said.

“That was at 3.4 DAQ voice quality,” Felsen said. “It's pretty much like talking on a telephone. … We're setting some pretty high standards here.”

At a “good” voice quality rating of 3.0 DAQ, on-road coverage exceeds 99% in both counties, Felsen said, noting that the M/A-COM coverage figures are “pretty remarkable.”

Under the terms of the state's contract with M/A-COM, the network must provide 97% on-road coverage and 95% coverage over the entire state.

The biggest hurdle still looms: a full-foliage test scheduled for June. If the network does not pass, the state has the right to end the contract without paying any money, even though M/A-COM already has invested tens of millions of dollars in the buildout and has a $100 million performance bond.