Pa's Open Sky Experience
The latest: Pa's has just spent 11 million dollars in deploying a "backup" VHF system to fill in the spots where Open Sky has failed.
The following is a letter I sent to the Pa Auditor General.
Dear Auditor General Wagner:
I want to bring your attention to a serious issue which endangers public safety and the lives of State Troopers. It's the Open Sky 800 MHz radio system that has been deployed.
Please review the following TV report.
$600 million radio investment leaves police hearing dead air | Investigations - WTAE Home
As a ham radio operator, licensed by the FCC, I have been following the radio system deployment. First the Open Sky system is NOT using the national standard for radio transmissions which is called Project 25. See: Project 25 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia What does this mean for the state taxpayers? In my opinion, a lot. The Open Sky system is propriety. That means when it comes time to buy new radios or supporting equipment the purchase can NOT be put out to bid. Why? Only one radio company, Harris, has the patent on Open Sky. Getting back to Project 25. Lets say that State Police decided to reconfigure their system for Project 25. They can bid on and then buy P25 radios from a variety of vendors, Motorola (Harris DOES make a p25 radio) Relm, GE, just about anyone. Under the current system without bidding that's like saying I have a radio and TV station. I will not be using the national standard to broadcast my programming. If you want to see/hear us you will have to buy the TV/radio set from us!
One of the main potential problems is the so called "cell sites" that will be used. They are used to "fill in" dead spots that the tower sites can not reach. In Pa most of those cell sites are connected by phone lines! In bad weather if the phone lines are pulled down or receive such damage---the cell site is useless.
Pa's Open Sky system is 10 years behind schedule, as it was supposed to be online in 2001. The cost has risen from an original 179 million to 380 million. Also there is word that in coming years the State will be going to an Open Sky 2 format. My information is that thousands of new radios will have to be purchased.
I also reviewed the state documentation of how the bid for a whole new radio system was awarded and am hoping the State Auditor General investigates. An example: The state asked the prospective vendors to supply three OPERATING systems that each vendor had deployed. Ma/Com, which was bought out by Harris, put down Fed Ex twice and the third, the Orange County California Transit Authority. The problem: At the time the OCTA radio system was not OPERATING and the radios were not even installed in the buses.
There also appears to be something defiantly flawed in the system as a whole. Please review the following link which show similar problems using Open Sky in other jurisdictions.
Inspector General finds problems with police radios, contract and tax dollars wasted
Las Vegas police dump problem radio system - News - ReviewJournal.com
I respectfully ask that a full performance audit be done on the system before a civilian or trooper is severely hurt or killed because of a problem plagued radio system.