LAS VEGAS — Raytheon announced yesterday during the International Wireless Communications Exposition (IWCE) that EADS Secure Networks North America has joined a team that is pursuing the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) contract. Should the consortium win the contract, Raytheon would serve as the systems integrator for the project. Other companies involved in the initiative are Etherstack and Powerwave Technologies.

A total of 88 cities are expected to be part of the joint powers authority that will sign off on the network build out, which is estimated to cost between $600 to $800 million. So far, 66 of those cities have formally joined the authority and the rest are expected to do so by Saturday.

The system being contemplated for the region would be Project 25- and open architecture-based in order to give system users maximum flexibility and to keep costs as low as possible, said Bill Iannacci, Raytheon's director of civil communications solutions. It also would leverage existing infrastructure and equipment as much as possible, he said.

"We're not trying to sell products, but a solution," Iannacci said. "We'll bring in product from competitors if we have to, if that's what somebody is using already, and make them work together. This is what standards are all about. They're not an excuse to throw everything away every seven years and start from zero. Rather, they're a way to get onto an evolutionary path and bring future technology into current systems. We don't want cities and counties to have to throw away investments they made just two or three years ago."

Building a region-wide communications in an area as large as Los Angeles County will be no easy task, a point Iannacci acknowledged. "Think of the political challenges that exist in a single city — now multiply that by 88. … The challenge is to not make them against each other, but show them how they all can get what they want while being part of an overall solution that scales to the different size cities.

"The effort is going to require people who bring skills in the area of public safety and security, but also bring proven integration capabilities," Iannacci said. "It's also going to require bringing 'best of breed' together to find the right solutions."

One of the criticisms of P25 is that vendors are allowed too much latitude in adding unique features that effectively turn systems that are supposed to be open into proprietary systems, a situation that is in direct conflict with the standard's primary goal. However, the fledgling P25 Compliance Assessment Program should correct that problem, said Etherstack's David Deacon.