Agriculture signs a deal for digital radios

The Agriculture Department has purchased a digital radio system that will extend communications across a large geographic area and deliver voice over IP, eventually allowing for data applications.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, USDA has been looking into radio systems that are compatible with Project 25 standards, making them interoperable regardless of vendor.

'Now they'll have metro area coverage,' unlike the previous analog radio system, said Ralph Flora, radio contracts and testing manager for the Forest Service, which helped USDA forge the $900,000, two-year contract with EF Johnson Co. of Waseca, Minn.

Agency security, maintenance and high-level personnel will be the primary users in both day-to-day and emergency situations, he said.

Flora said the Forest Service also has plans to move to a Project 25-compatible digital radio system by the end of this fiscal year.

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