Land-mobile-radio (LMR) manufacturer EFJohnson this week announced it is teaming with networking giant Cisco Systems to combine EFJohnson’s LMR solutions with Cisco’s IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (IPICS).

Cisco’s IP focus fits well with EFJohnson’s native-IP LMR solution, said Ed Kelly, EFJohnson’s vice president of product and business development. By combining the platforms, public-safety users will be able to realize P25 ISSI capabilities that won’t be standardized for years and provide a graceful migration path from legacy LMR systems to IP-based P25 systems.

“What we’re telling customers … is, ‘We know you have a lot of legacy equipment out there and you don’t want to forklift that, and there’s issues with interoperability between legacy equipment. Let me bridge that together for you and let me migrate you to Project 25 in a way that’s on your timeframe and within your budget,’” Kelly said. “By working together, we create this competitive advantage for both companies and for the end-user base in our market, in general.”

While Cisco’s IPICS is an excellent interoperability solution, the networking company found that it was losing potential business because it could not package LMR radios in its offering, Kelly said.

“Cisco sees an ability to package solutions together with EFJohnson, … so they can walk into a large municipality or state government—where they probably already have the IT backbone infrastructure for that [entity]—and now they have an extension to that IT infrastructure called wireless or LMR that can be deployed by leveraging the assets they already have in place,” he said. “Or, even if they don’t have [the IT infrastructure], the combination of the two is a much better value in terms of the overall cost.”

The timing of the announcement is significant, as public-safety entities across the U.S. apply for $1 billion in interoperability grants, and a nationwide 700 MHz network for public safety is being proposed, Kelly said. Eventually, the Cisco-EFJohnson team could have a formidable impact in the LMR market, he said.

“Look at the PBX market. A few years ago, Avaya was No. 1 and Cisco was No. 5. Now, Cisco is No. 1,” Kelly said. “I believe Cisco intends to do the same thing in LMR. Now, how they go about that may imply a series of acquisitions or partnering with the right companies.”