Racal pulls out of public radio project

£1.5bn communications plan `too risky’

Home Office plans for an open competition to run a privately financed radio network were thrown into disarray last week when one of the two bidders pulled out.

Racal Electronics has stopped running for the £1.5bn Public Safety Radio Communications Project, describing it as `too risky’.

The Racal-led bid for the contract, to be awarded next year, was competing with one led by BT. Both expected to receive 18-month project definition study contracts from the Home Office in the next few weeks.

Racal pulled out last week because there was no guarantee from the police to buy the system once a network had been developed.

Racal’s withdrawal has left the remaining six consortium members stranded. These include NTL, which felt it had a better chance of winning with Racal’s bid instead of leading its own.

Racal was also concerned about the size of the Home Office’s financial contribution to the study.

At the time of going to press, Ericsson, the Swedish mobile phone manufacturer bidding with Racal, said it was also pulling out because it did not consider the timescale for technological development long enough.

By Melanie Tringham