L3Harris developing more LMR-LTE solutions while celebrating first anniversary after merger
L3Harris continues to see market interest in solutions that leverage both LMR and LTE technology in multiple sectors as the company completes its first year of integration since the merger of Harris and L3 Technologies—an effort made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic impacts.
Nino DiCosmo, president of the L3Harris public-safety and professional communications (PSPC) division, acknowledged that implementing a merger amid a drastic economic downturn has presented unforeseen challenges, but he remains optimistic about the company’s position.
“Overall, it’s been a great deal—the right deal,” DiCosmo said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It’ll be good for the customers and our shareholders … when you look at what we had to manage through—both the merger and the pandemic—to continue to expand our product sets and focus on our targets, I’m really pleased.
“As the businesses came together, what I think works really well for us is having the additional capabilities and competencies have added to the new products that we’re going to bring out to the market.”
Specifically, DiCosmo noted that L3Harris is realizing that the different types of technical expertise that the L3 and Harris engineering staffs have brought to the merged company will result in the communications products being “a light year better” in the future. In particular, DiCosmo said that L3Harris products will benefit from significant new material-science capabilities—notably, improved thermal dynamics—as well as enhanced electronics and supply-chain execution.
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, L3Harris PSPC was able to meet its delivery schedules for existing offerings, launch new products online—instead of at in-person trade shows—and continue development of new solutions that will be unveiled during the next year, DiCosmo said. This includes new wrinkles to the company’s XL portfolio of products that support both LMR and LTE connectivity.
“We continued to expand the XL platform of products—we delivered a new 150 product, as well as we delivered on our Power 25 platform, which is a bundling of our XL terminals and our Master 5 base station into utilities,” DiCosmo said.
“In the next 12 to 15 months, we’re going to be delivering derivative extensions on the XL platform that we’re really excited about that’s going to put us into segments we’ve not been in in the past, as well as a brand-new base station product that’s going to build on the converged technology of LMR and LTE that’s currently in our XL products.”
During the pandemic, L3Harris has offered first-responder and healthcare agencies free use of its BeOn application that provides broadband data and push-to-talk services that can be integrated with LMR communications. In addition to standalone deployments, this has driven greater interest in hybrid networks, DiCosmo said.
“We are seeing that the converged device—the LMR-LTE device, which is our XL-200P and our XL-200M—are starting to go with more and more LTE capability, especially as we continue to collaborate with FirstNet/AT&T,” DiCosmo said. “They’re a great partner for us. As we continue to work collaboratively in selling with them, we’re starting to see a larger uptake on the LTE devices.”
Maintaining focus on the development of new solutions was no easy task, given the significant effort it takes to integrate companies after any large merger and the many challenges faced as COVID-19 transformed the landscape, according to DiCosmo.
“It’s been interesting,” he said. “If the economy could have been hit harder, I don’t know how it would have been. So, you had to merge two large companies into one larger company and deal with a global pandemic that shut down the global economy.
“We created an $18 billion-revenue company with 48,000 employees—40% engineers—in a hundred countries with just under 4% of R&D and created one large company. That’s not a small pass, so that took some time. But we had to keep running each one of the sectors, segments and divisions without missing a beat, and I think we did a pretty good job of that … I think bringing the companies together was a huge accomplishment, considering all of the factors.”
DiCosmo said L3Harris PSPC was not interrupted by the supply-chain issues that have disrupted many other businesses during the pandemic. L3Harris had some customers delay order deliveries of radios during shutdown periods, but the company has not seen any abrupt stoppages.
However, DiCosmo acknowledged the critical nature of the next several months, as the budget impacts of COVID-19 measures and “Defund the Police” initiatives become clearer.
“We haven’t seen quite what I would call any kind of widespread budget constraints yet,” DiCosmo said. “That may come. As you know, we’re only just starting to emerge … All of the programs that were on hold because there was nobody working, those are starting to come off hold and we’re re-engaging with those customers.
“We haven’t seen any impact yet on capital projects. I would suspect that we would see trends emerging in the next 90 to 120 days. I think it’s too early in the recovery for us to say that there’s a trend. I think everything is a one-off right now that we see.”