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NTSB plans to ditch BlackBerry in favor of iPhone 5

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The National Transportation Safety Board says it will replace the BlackBerrys currently in use at the agency in favor of Apple iPhones. In a Nov. 13 notice posted to FedBizOpps, NTSB cited poor performance as the reason for the switch.

The devices "have been failing at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate," says the notice. Given that the agency's investigative mission requires it has "effective, reliable and stable communication capabilities," the BlackBerry devices must go, says NTSB.

According to the document, the agency plans to issue a sole source solicitation to Verizon Wireless to provide iPhone 5 devices. Verizon is currently NTSB's primary wireless vendor and the agency hopes to take advantage of the carrier's device refresh, which allows customers to replace existing devices with newer models at no additional cost every 11 months.

The notice later acknowledges, however, that the iPhone 5 will be discounted rather than free of charge, because it is Apple's newest model of smartphone. An older generation iPhone, however, would be available free of charge through the refresh plan.

The reason NTSB plans to adopt iPhones--rather than Android devices, for example--is because iPhone provides a standardized operating platform. The agency already uses Apple iPads, so it is familiar with the iOS platform and has the appropriate operational support in place, according to the notice.

"The iPhone 5 has been determined to be the only device that meets the dual requirement of availability from the existing wireless vendor and is currently supportable by existing staff resources," concludes NTSB.

The agency also says syncing iPads and iPhones will provide a better user experience for NTSB staff, allowing them to retain applications and capabilities across devices.

For more:
- read the entire NTSB justification

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