The New York State Office for Technology (OFT) announced Monday M/A-COM Inc., the prime contractor for the network, has certified the Statewide Wireless Network is ready for operational testing in Erie and Chautauqua Counties. This is a major project milestone in the State's effort to build an interoperable radio network for emergency communication among first responders as its primary purpose.

"The Statewide Wireless Network Project Office, based on M/A-COM's certification, is ready to begin testing the network," said Dr. Michael R. Mittleman, Deputy CIO at the New York State Office for Technology and Interim Project Director. "We will put the network through its paces in a rigorous test and will stretch the system to its limits to ensure the system can handle radio communications during any emergency our state's first responders may face."

The Statewide Wireless Network Project Office began system testing Monday which will be followed by a full operational test by state and local first responders. Ultimately, the system will be used by public safety and public service workers from state, local, and federal agencies. The system has the potential to service other public emergency needs such as utilities and railroads who regularly face public emergency events. Testing is expected to conclude by April 30, followed by an independent third party analysis of the testing results.

Testing is aimed at ensuring the emergency communication network meets all technical and functional specifications as outlined in the state contract with M/A-COM. Testing covers areas such as radio reception, area coverage, voice quality, equipment features and functions, and network operations. While first responders will test the system in day-to-day and emergency scenarios, no first responders will use the system outside of testing until the state is satisfied that all contract requirements have been met.

As an example of the multi-tiered testing and verification process, the final vendor-conducted test results for on-road coverage with superior voice quality were calculated by Syracuse Research as 98.38 percent in Chautauqua County and 98.39 percent in Erie County. This level of coverage exceeds the minimum contract requirements. Now these results must be independently tested and verified by the OFT technical staff and first responder user groups. Next, all test data must be additionally verified by an Independent Verification & Validation (IV & V) contractor. In addition, there will be one last verification test when trees are fully leafed out in June to be in compliance with the state's contract.

"No system has ever been tested in such granularity (more than 110,000 test points in two rounds of testing in Erie and Chautauqua counties). We are insisting on reiteration and independent verification of testing to erase any doubt as to exactly what the State will be getting if it accepts the system for full deployment," said Mittleman.

The Statewide Wireless Network is an integrated public safety/service radio network with statewide coverage providing interoperability, or the ability to share voice and data communication between and among disciplines and jurisdictions. The network will be the first comprehensive upgrade to many of the state's emergency radio systems in more than 30 years. The emergency radio network will provide essential connectivity to enable on-demand and real-time coordination of police, fire, emergency medical and other first response services. When fully deployed, the system will provide coverage across 95 percent of the state's geography and 97 percent of the roadways.