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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 12-14-2013, 6:15 PM
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Default Mototrbo Trunked good for Fire or Bad

Your situation would be the same with VHF P25 as it would be with VHF DMR if mutual aid companies are VHF Analog. Not to mention that if you really wanted to stay on VHF DMR you could have either through the use of your own interop bridge or through the use of a console level conventional interface hard patched the the regional system talkgroups. This stuff is done all the time.


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Old 12-14-2013, 6:22 PM
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Your situation would be the same with VHF P25 as it would be with VHF DMR if mutual aid companies are VHF Analog. Not to mention that if you really wanted to stay on VHF DMR you could have either through the use of your own interop bridge or through the use of a console level conventional interface hard patched the the regional system talkgroups. This stuff is done all the time.
Tried a patch (becuase that was one possibility that was sold to use), but ran into issue because the hang time between the channels. One would stayed key until the hang time on the other dropped thus making at least 5sec before you could talk back from the other system. Plus the user would get no feed back if the other system was busy or any other errors.
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Old 12-14-2013, 6:22 PM
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Yes, analog simplex is interoperable. But doesn't that negate the whole point of switching out your entire radio system for whatever the salesman said is the latest and greatest?
Yep. This is where the uber slick Motorola salesmen come into their own.


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As for "going MotoTRBO is cheaper than going P25", that may be true, but I view that kind of thinking as being identical to the guy who asks "what's the cheapest oil I can get for my car?". If you get the cheapest thing available, you will suffer for it down the road.
Yep, buying the cheapest thing you can get is a bad idea, but so is buying the most expensive option available. The value is somewhere in the middle. Same reason why BeoFungs are not often used in public safety, and top of the line military grade gear isn't either. The middle area is pretty wide, analog near the bottom, P25 near the top. In the center is the MotoTrbo's, NXDN's, TETRAS, etc.

Just wait until LTR for public safety hits the market, it'll be the "New interoperability standard" that all the departments with money will have to have. Won't take long before P25 is passé. The "in crowd" will always have the most expensive toys. Trouble is there is always something new coming out that is considered better. P25 is that right now, 10 years, it'll be 700MHz LTR or who knows what. One thing you can be sure of, the salesmen will be lined up ready to push this. 20 years ago it was Project 16, now it's Project 25…..



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Put it this way. If it was such a great deal to get a DMR system, and yet in order to talk to anyone else in the region, you have to switch off of that DMR system to analog, where is the benefit?
As I'm sure you've experience, it isn't always about what's right. The local city manager, fire chief, police chief, city council, whoever, gets approached by "Vendor X" with the product. Mr. Slick Salesman tells them that if they are serious about officer safety, they have to have the best product, and not buying it means they hate public safety, the country, etc. Doesn't take much to get people to buy whatever you are selling, just hint that a lawsuit could happen, or worse yet, Mr. Politician might not get reelected. I've seen this happen many times at work. Vendor X can be any of the big companies, Cisco, Motorola, Google, fill in the blanks….

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I can concede for some agencies that realize some benefit by using a TDMA DMR system to allow fire, bylaw, and public works to share the same frequencies simultaneously - something that has happened with both the TRBO systems in my area, far as I know. They can maximize their system by repurposing the tower sites that used to be for each of the three separate agencies, as nodes in the DMR "trunk" system, for all three to use together.
Yeah, Motorola has been pushing this from day 1. When I was in the market a few years back to replace an aging SmartNet system, I got the same sales pitch. It's true, it's a great option, but there are some issues they don't like to talk about. Looking closely at those issues raised some concern and make me look at other options.

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DMR, in my opinion, is fine for an agency that does not do any communication beyond its own realm. That is, the power company that only talks to "itself"; the public works department that never needs to talk to anyone else; and so on. But for public safety agencies, which by their nature have to interoperate on a daily basis, IMO buying DMR paints them into a corner in which there are only two ways out - forcing the neighbors they need to interoperate with into spending money buying equipment to work on the agency's preferred flavor of DMR, or switching to analog to talk to one another, thus forsaking all the features that supposedly make DMR better than everything else on the market.
This is very true, and it doesn't happen with just DMR. I've seen cases where a big city will dump VHF analog and buy a new 700MHz P25 system. All the smaller departments around them that rely on the bigger agency for mutual aid are now pretty much forced into buying compatible radios. What usually happens is that a volunteer fire company can only afford one or two 700MHz P25 radios. The guys on the ground that really need them don't get them. They usually get treated as prized possessions that only the high officers are allowed to touch. Everyone else either goes without, buys their own gear, or is stuck on a separate system. Things like mutual aid communications need to be a decision made by everyone, not just the department with the most money.
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Old 12-14-2013, 6:26 PM
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Just wait until LTR for public safety hits the market, it'll be the "New interoperability standard" that all the departments with money will have to have.
A town near me used to use a 3-channel LTR system for fire, ambulance, bylaw, and PW. Imagine what happened on a motor vehicle collision during a weekday - busy-outs galore. Then they tried MPT1327. Now things have calmed down and they're on........ conventional UHF.
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Old 12-14-2013, 6:33 PM
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A town near me used to use a 3-channel LTR system for fire, ambulance, bylaw, and PW. Imagine what happened on a motor vehicle collision during a weekday - busy-outs galore. Then they tried MPT1327. Now things have calmed down and they're on........ conventional UHF.
I meant to write LTE, not LTR. Too many dang acronyms…..

700MHz LTE is already being pushed by some manufacturers as the interoperability solution that will fix everything. It's already getting pushed hard in some areas thanks to FirstNet and the like. As soon as it takes off the sales guys will start pushing it over P25. P25 will get pushed out and all those brand new system that were installed will be called "obsolete".
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Old 12-14-2013, 6:34 PM
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Tried a patch (becuase that was one possibility that was sold to use), but ran into issue because the hang time between the channels. One would stayed key until the hang time on the other dropped thus making at least 5sec before you could talk back from the other system. Plus the user would get no feed back if the other system was busy or any other errors.
It is easy to get suckered into patch solutions. There are very few "good" patch options and they require someone with some knowledge and skill to configure and work the bugs out of. The best option is to do it at the network level with fill IP connections between each RF Sub-System. The next best would be through network level conventional interfaces to control stations. The final option would be using a GOOD gateway device such as a JPS ACU. When properly configured the process of grant tones, hang times, audio delays and many other factors can be worked out ahead of time.

Simple audio patch boxes should NEVER be used in public safety.
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Old 12-14-2013, 6:39 PM
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I meant to write LTE, not LTR. Too many dang acronyms…..

700MHz LTE is already being pushed by some manufacturers as the interoperability solution that will fix everything. It's already getting pushed hard in some areas thanks to FirstNet and the like. As soon as it takes off the sales guys will start pushing it over P25. P25 will get pushed out and all those brand new system that were installed will be called "obsolete".
LTE will only manage the actual RF protocol. There are many other standards that will need to be created or adapted from P25 to actually provide for talkpaths and features. I don't think that anyone actually has hope that FirstNet will become anything operational in most of the nation (lets look at how well other federal regional programs (ie: IWIN) have worked out. With that said, I do agree that LTE will be the cat's meow in 15-20 years. Having played with Harris' BeOn LTE solution, the options can be appealing.
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Old 12-14-2013, 6:43 PM
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LTE will only manage the actual RF protocol. There are many other standards that will need to be created or adapted from P25 to actually provide for talkpaths and features. I don't think that anyone actually has hope that FirstNet will become anything operational in most of the nation (lets look at how well other federal regional programs (ie: IWIN) have worked out. With that said, I do agree that LTE will be the cat's meow in 15-20 years. Having played with Harris' BeOn LTE solution, the options can be appealing.
Right, last I looked, they hadn't worked out the handset to handset communications, everything relied on the base station.
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Old 12-14-2013, 6:46 PM
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The problem is, where does it stop? The agencies with money will always be out in front, and the little agencies will constantly be playing catch up.
Thankfully my county is entirely analog VHF and doesn't have any plans of switching that anytime soon. No money in anyones budget, too many sites would need to be upgraded, and unlikely any of that will change soon.
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Old 12-14-2013, 7:06 PM
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I meant to write LTE, not LTR. Too many dang acronyms…..

700MHz LTE is already being pushed by some manufacturers as the interoperability solution that will fix everything. It's already getting pushed hard in some areas thanks to FirstNet and the like. As soon as it takes off the sales guys will start pushing it over P25. P25 will get pushed out and all those brand new system that were installed will be called "obsolete".
FirstNet is not meant to do voice - at least, not in the first (excuse the pun) iteration. The "700 broadband" being developed, the FirstNet chunk of the 700 MHz spectrum, is for data transfer like video and RMS information between a dispatch center and a field crew. And anyone pushing 700 LTE for anything at this point has the cart so far out in front of the horse that it's disappeared over the horizon, past the curvature of the earth.

I'm aware there is a limited trial that's gone on for public safety LTE networking, actually a couple of them, but a working system is far enough down the road that I'm not worried about LMR systems going in now, or even the systems going in as their replacements at the end of their life-cycles.

And everyone touts their latest project as the one that will solve everything - always has, always will. It's almost a necessity for Moore's Law to continue in perpetuity. You might solve everything that is conceivable now, but once that's in place, I am sure I can dream something else up that I want addressed.
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Old 12-14-2013, 7:19 PM
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As someone who managed our MotoTRBO System for our Dept and now we have been forced to a P25 "regional" system.

We have taken a step back in Mutual Aid, Most surrounding Depts are VHF and we are now 700Mhz of which no one is, Our Tubo had VHF Mutual Aid Channels (Analog) which allowed us to talk to them, now none of our surrounding counties can talk to us nor us them.

Also the MotoTRBO portables cost about $700, now we are using portables that are costing $2700-$3000, we could have built out our TRBO network for far less then our portion of the P25.

Also in the 2.5 years we had our Trbo system and radios not one ever broke out of about 60 portables most seeing at least some firefighting some seeing a lot, one was stolen one was lost and one was run over by a firetruck but not a single one ever has issues or needed to be repaired for any other reason.

MotoTRBO use the AMBE vocoder, P25 Phase 1 uses the crappy IMBE vocoder and our voice quality has gone down not up especially on Mobiles that don't have noise cancelling, note the TRBO didn't have any and they still sounded better.

Also MotoTRBO has some nice easy to use features, Private Calling, TX Interrupt (Remote De-Key), Emergency (Which can De-Key a radio on the channel so it can transmit the Emergency), even texting with presets, and the Fact it is TDMA for double the channel capacity.

Note we do stay analog and simplex on the fire ground both on the 700mhz and the VHF Trbos.

Overall we took a step back but the SO wanted this and we got forced to it.
Sounds like they have created a need for some radio interoperability gateways. Virginia ran into this same problems about 5 years ago and started a state wide interoperability system they named the "Virginia COMLINC Project". If you do a search on this name, you will find a number of threads and such. It boils down to there are over 170 gateways currently on a common network that can share connected radio channels between the different agencies. Some of the gateways are in mobile command vehicles, but the majority are in the county and state police 911 dispatch centers.
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:49 PM
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A lot of departments (the ones who do the dispatching for fire) keep the analog channel that they are using now for paging as they expand their system into the digital arena. Surrounding departments can also buy an interoperability switch that will let them cross talk to the digital system with their analog radios without having to replace all of their radios. A very good one, at a reasonable price, is the C250. Radio Interoperability|Repeaters|Cross-band Communications|New Communications Solutions
Virtually any make and model of radio can be used on it because it is just a fancy audio switch. You just have to have the correct interface cable.
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Old 12-19-2013, 6:37 AM
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A lot of departments (the ones who do the dispatching for fire) keep the analog channel that they are using now for paging as they expand their system into the digital arena. Surrounding departments can also buy an interoperability switch that will let them cross talk to the digital system with their analog radios without having to replace all of their radios. A very good one, at a reasonable price, is the C250. Radio Interoperability|Repeaters|Cross-band Communications|New Communications Solutions
Virtually any make and model of radio can be used on it because it is just a fancy audio switch. You just have to have the correct interface cable.
This is a great comment. All of my local and regional interoperability communications use patching. We have analog, P25 phase 1 and 2, Mototrbo, NXDN, and 380/700/800 MHz digital trunking systems that communicate with one another with no issues. Some agencies use the VTAC/UTAC 700/800 MHz Tactical channels along with designated talk groups.

It always goes back to 'turf wars' between agencies. That will always be the biggest problem with interoperability communications. It's not a 'hardware' issue, but a 'people' issue.

So to answer the original question, Mototrbo isn't good or bad for the Fire Departments. It's just another digital protocol in the scheme of things.
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Old 12-19-2013, 11:11 PM
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Looks like they are going to use a analog patch for the pagers. As far as fireground they are set on using digital. As for interop like most agencies in Alabama they are counting on the ACU1000 to tie everything together. Raytheon Company: ACU-1000 Also National VTac Channels will be programed in the radio.
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Old 12-20-2013, 1:00 AM
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A couple things to keep in mind….


Going MotoTrbo is considerably cheaper than going P25. P25 might be the de facto standard for most public safety, but that's mainly due to market share. P25 (phase 1) has been around for a very long time and it's not built off the best codecs. MotoTrbo will sound as good as, if not better than, P25. As a taxpayer in your county, this might be something to be thankful for. It's probably saving your county a huge amount over a P25 system.

.
Number one reason for going p25 today? GRANTS. As a taxpayer in that county, would you not want the county to be progressive in the grants available? Federal, and federally funded grant programs are now in most all cases REQUIRING P25. Yep. AFG started last year. Billions of dollars on the table, it is a lot more cost effective to get the equipment in a grant, and then pay a little more for more units than having to foot the entire bill yourself.

Sure, TRBO sounds good, any recent P25 sounds just as good. IDAS/NXDN sounds even better. The next iteration may even sound better. They all sound pretty damned good.
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Old 12-20-2013, 4:44 AM
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Default Mototrbo Trunked good for Fire or Bad

Gateway devices all have limitations. The reason that P25 is required for grant recipients has nothing to do with the technology itself and everything to do with the fact that there needs to be a single standard.


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Old 12-20-2013, 7:34 AM
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Unless I missed it somewhere I thought the use of digital anywhere in the FF service is still frowned upon. That disaster at FDNY years back brought that to the forefront, and what advantage is the use of digital over analog. Is this more of a security issue IE: ENCRYPTION ? (Governments LOVE encryption, but not for the people) Did the town get sold a bill of goods? Around here you can have 3 or 4 vendors all clammering at the door trying to get you to go TRBO or any digital. I know of one agency that dropped TRBO, and went back to analog due to all kinds of issues, and this was a simple one channel repeater for a village of 1 sq mile, and yes it was upgraded constantly and even mother M came in, but unless you buy mother M's product for addon's they won't garrentee your system will work.
The whole picture has to be looked at BEFORE you go digital. What are you trying to accomplish, are you short channels? Well then apply for more, that's what narrow band WAS supposed to fix, NOT. Are you looking to keep the public out of your hair? (My favorite pet peeve) Are you trying to combine services to one radio band, or one vendor or brand? What about interops, yes a TRBO can be programmed for analog, but you better carry 2 or 3 batteries for one tour, they eat batteries in analog. Are you better off on a county or statewide system?
The problem is there is no real evaluation or help to PS agencies for this information. Yes you can spend a 100G on a consultant for a 100G system, but where is the savings on that.
Unless there is a NEED for more channels and you can't get anything from the FCC, or you want radio-location on your vehicles, though I don't recommend piggybacking it on emergency voice channels there really isn't a need to go digital, there are lot's of other options.
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Old 12-20-2013, 4:16 PM
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Default Mototrbo Trunked good for Fire or Bad

Digital vocoders have greatly improved over the years and MANY fire departments are now comfortable with digital operations. One of the main factors in trunking AND digital operations is spectral efficiency. Spectrum is finite and not as simple as just applying for more frequencies. If something happens to be available, things like coordination, conventional simulcast repeaters and engineering get very expensive very quickly.


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Old 12-21-2013, 12:30 PM
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Three Scenarios to consider:

#1- Your area has a routine y'all come incident. You have any proprietary system. Foreigners comming with mutual aid have incompatable or differently programmed radios. Your plan?

#2- Your area has a routine y'all come incident. Command shifts operations from your daily use proprietary channel to an interoperable channel. Is there even a common interoperable channel available? Do you know how to find it in your radio? Does anyone else? Have you tested it with the neighbors? If special radios/bridges/gateways/etc are required, do they work and how long before they are available?

#3- You are an interior firefighter working in a basement, and have a life and safety emergency. You call "Mayday". Which would you rather bet your life on: A- that your plain vanilla analog simplex radio can be heard directly by safety oversight 200 feet away, or B- that your radio can be heard by safety oversight 200 feet away through any format repeater located over a mile away?
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Old 12-21-2013, 1:40 PM
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I guess you agreeing with me on digital then. Just because a few departments are comfortable with digital still doesn't make for good policy for everybody. Spectrual efficiency may be needed in large city areas, but why are you buying a technology for use that even isn't mandated yet. It goes back to what I have been saying for over 5 years, why buy a computer today for use 5 years from now, and a radio is basically more a computer than a radio nowadays. Trunking and digital isn't needed in the woods, which is where a majority of agencies are, and large cities are going P-25 not TURBO, and most are smart enough to not use them for on scene operations.
Now lets talk about licensing, yes you pay for a co-ordinator but not the FCC if you are P.S.. You are still going to pay fees, and sometimes many times over a conventional license application for trunked and digital. So there isn't an incentive there.
It's unfortunate that vendors are driving the change to digital and trunking, and not an inherit need for either. Look at NYC, most of the P.S.systems are still analog and conventional, that says something when the largest city in the U.S. has stayed analog and conventional.
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