Raytheon JPS announced this week announced a collaboration with Cisco Systems that will integrate JPS’s ACU-2000 IP gateway with Cisco’s Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS) to deliver interoperable communications not only across agencies, but also across devices.

According to Raytheon JPS, an incident commander can leverage the new solution to communicate via an IP-based desk phone with first responders in the field, regardless of whether they’re using a portable radio, mobile data device, wireline telephone, wireless telephone or personal computer.

The collaboration brings together two market leaders to deliver a best-in-breed solution, said Keith McDonald, vice president of marketing for Raytheon JPS.

“We’re the leader in radio interoperability technology and Cisco’s the leader in networking,” McDonald said. “You want the best radio interface, and at the same time you need wide-area interoperability, so you can put that signal over the IP network.”

While some public-safety officials have been wary of IP-based solutions, the reputations of Cisco and Raytheon JPS should help allay those concerns regarding this solution, said Roman Kaluta, director of interoperability solutions for Raytheon JPS.

“There are many agencies that are starting to see the movement toward convergence of LMR and IP. Certainly they have been asking for it, and they are cautious about it,” Kaluta said. “With two industry leaders—one on the network side and one on the LMR side—bringing a solution forward gives it a lot of stability and a lot of faith on their part that it will meet their mission-critical needs.”

The catalyst for the collaboration was JPS’s addition of the session initiation protocol (SIP) to its solution. Shortly thereafter Cisco also added a SIP interface, which sparked a “flash of lightening,” according to McDonald. “That got us talking in earnest,” he said.

McDonald called SIP “a logical step” on the evolutionary curve. “Radios have kind of been an island unto themselves for so long,” he said. “SIP has been the first digital standard that enables those devices to be connected. We saw that early on and said, ‘We’ve got to make this part of the system.”

--Glenn Bischoff contributed to this story.