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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 03-04-2011, 3:04 PM
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When the system was first announced, the only costs to be borne by the departments was for radio hardware (mobiles and portables). The province was picking up the tab for the cost of the towers, radio infrastructure and linking, etc.

Personally, when you weigh the costs of:

Own Radio System
- towers (and/or leasing the land thereof)
- repeater/infrastructure equipment
- license costs for the frequency(ies)
- repeat above 3 items x however many towers/freqs/etc you have/want
- end user radio equipment

versus

AFRRCS (my guess)
- licensing costs for the specific block of frequencies for the trunk system
- end user radio equipment

I think I can convince my town to favor door number two.

The only real concern I have with this setup is personnel alerting. Many (most) rural/volunteer departments use voice pagers to alert their members. I haven't seen any solution in the info I've seen for AFRRCS. IMO, it is technically possible to select-call individual (or groups of) radios, duplicating the functionality of a pager receiver/alert monitor with a full P25 radio. However, I don't think all departments are going to be in the financial ballpark of outfitting every member with a personal P25 radio. I still know of some departments that have only a small handful of portables (less than 5) which stay at the station and are used on the truck, instead of issued to members.

Rescue54, I would look hard at grant money if I were you. AFAIK, there are tons of places trying desperately to hemorrhage grant money left and right. See if you can get a couple portables a year for the next few years, or get really lucky and get someone to give you a dozen or so. Also, it would behoove you to install trunking radios in your trucks now, one or two at a time, rather than waiting and getting them all at once. Over the past few years, we have put XTL5000 mobiles in each of Redwood's new trucks, and have only two left to do at this point (out of six trucks). The XTL is a 700/800 P25 compatible radio and is currently programmed up for Calgary's 800 Smartzone system. When AFRRCS comes alive, it will take a quick reprogramming (and maybe a flash upgrade) to make them work on that system.
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Last edited by Jay911; 03-04-2011 at 3:09 PM..
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Old 03-04-2011, 3:19 PM
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Good to know. I don't know which way our chief will go, hard to say. Right now we keep a bank of 16 radios on our system and if we had a trunked radio (new system) on each truck we could use the old radios for scene coms but might not be practical. One handheld on one system might be better. Just a matter of funding, I know they are going to be very expensive. Might have to talk to you in person about this one day.

Thanks
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Old 03-04-2011, 4:31 PM
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At the Edmonton news conference at Fire Station number 1 today the radio demonstrated was a Harris Unity XG-100 Portable. I got a brochure that was passed out. Nice Smartphone type of touch screen in the middle between the speaker and the key pad. The mobile is a XG 100M model.

CTV had the story at noon and suppose will have one at 6. This system was first announced at this same fire station in October of 2008.
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Old 03-04-2011, 9:03 PM
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In Saskatchewan, on the PPSTN, the Province covered the purchase of a mobile or portable for every piece of apparatus, plus one additional portable for Command purposes. Any additional radios were to be purchased by the department at a reduced cost thanks to a standing offer. This was with Motorola Canada, and turned out much better than Harris. On top of hardware costs, Dept's must pay a monthly network fee which gets to be pretty hefty if you have a lot of radios.
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Old 03-04-2011, 9:26 PM
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The RCMP are using Harris mobiles and portables but the beauty of a P25 system is that Motorola radios can also be used. I thought all the infastructure in Saskatchewan towers links ect were built by Harris.

The AFRRS will be piloted between Calgary and Brooks and then move into Eastern Alberta. Sheriff's already have P25 Motorola trunked radios now on 800Mhz which can be re-programmed to 700 MHz when the AFRRS kicks in.
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Old 03-04-2011, 9:32 PM
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The original RFP stated there would be no user fees on AFRRCS. I haven't heard of anything changing otherwise.

Harry - is the pilot going to be Newell County (Brooks) alone or involving Calgary too? Calgary has ties to Rockyview, Mountain View counties and Bighorn and Foothills MDs, along with Ranchlands, Willow Creek, Vulcan, and Crowsnest Pass, but not Newell at all.
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Old 03-04-2011, 9:53 PM
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Your info may explain why they chose this corridor to pilot. If Newell is on MIKE IDEN I think they want to phase it out soon and provide a seamless communication all the way to Calgary on the same system. It appears they may leave the Edmonton and Calgary hubs till near last as they are both working so well under contract to AHS.

In the Edmonton Journal story Frank Oberle the Minister in charge mentioned the difficulty of the St. Albert RCMP talking to Edmonton while pursuing a vehicle into Edmonton. One error he made was St. Albert is dispatched by the NOCC rather than the SOCC in Red Deer.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:30 AM
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Well I hope the portables they choose are not the Unity as they weigh a freaking ton and are bigger even than the P7200 series radios... Which you can use as a hammer if needed.

I was under the understanding that the baseline portable for the new system was going to be the Harris P7300 series and the M7300 as the mobile??

Not that we here in Edmonton will probably have to worry about this for another 20 years... (hah!)
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Old 03-05-2011, 1:28 AM
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Harry, all of the infrastructure on the Sask P25 system is Harris, however the majority of users are using or migrating over to Motorola equipment. If you have the chance, like Jay, purchase Motorola equipment. The ones we have are phenomenal.
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Old 03-05-2011, 2:28 AM
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MatteBlack and others - the concept of a P25 "vendor agnostic" system (which is what AFRRCS was advertised to us to be during the PQR process) involves being able to select from any P25-compliant radio. Motorola, Harris, Thales, Kenwood, Tait - hell, if you could convince Mattel or Fisher-Price to make a P25-compliant "My First Walkie-Talkie", you could bring it to the party.

I am choosing Motorola because it is "backwards" compatible with the existing Smartzone system we use right now. Someone in Edmonton would be wise to spec a radio that can do P25 and EDACS (if such a beast exists). I keep hearing that XPR radios may be flash-upgradeable from TRBO to P25, but I am extremely skeptical about that until I hear from a big M rep.

As for where the system goes first, I would think that areas where RCMP and GoA users (F&W, COs, etc) need replacement the most should be high up on the list. For example take note of the fact that the A15 RCMP repeater packed it in recently (see the RCMP PACS thread).
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Old 03-05-2011, 4:41 AM
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I wonder if anyone in Alberta will be using the new Unity series radios from Harris? I hear that the RCMP liked these radios when they were demonstrated for them a few months ago. These radios will do P25, EDACS, OpenSky, and Analog modes.

XG-100M Mobile Radio

Unity Radio marketing info


73s

Ron
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Old 03-05-2011, 8:33 AM
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MatteBlack I think the Unity was a nice prop for the photo op. As Jay points out end users will be able to use any vendor that supplies proper P25 radios. It's a bit of a step back to promote an all band radio when the selling point is moving everyone to 700 MHz. The Unity will very handy in the transition process,over the next couple of years, and for the holdbacks to have at least one radio on the new system. And yes there are "backwards" compatible P25 to EDACS radios built by Harris that will make users in Edmonton happy.

I think the Harris P7300 series which is used by the RCMP in Saskatchewan will also be popular here as it offers encryption for their more sensitive areas.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:57 AM
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Thunderbolt posted a couple of things in the Announcements thread that I found worthy of discussion.

This press release - Harris Awarded $289 Million (CAD) Contract by the Government of Alberta, Canada,... -- EDMONTON, Alberta, March 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- - has some interesting technical and procedural information.

In particular:

Quote:
In addition, the system will include a VHF P25 overlay with sites located in certain mountainous and rural areas to provide expanded coverage reliability in these remote locations.
Not 100% sure what a "VHF P25 overlay" means. Will sites in the mountains have 700 and VHF frequencies? Will the mountain sites have VHF only? The Parks radios currently in use, as far as I'm led to believe, are not P25 compatible, so it's not a case of retaining the existing VHF equipment for cost-reduction. It might require agencies like mine - who do work in Kananaskis and etc - to consider one of the multi-band radios like the Harris Unity, Thales Liberty, or Motorola's APX line.

The other thing that caught my eye is this quote Thunderbolt posted - I can't find it in either press release available right now. TB, care to share where it came from? It does seem to confirm things mentioned previously:

Quote:
The system is to be introduced in three phases between 2011-2014. The first phase will involve a pilot region east of Calgary to Brooks. The second phase will cover the eastern portion of the province, and the final phase will cover the western half of the province.
The western half of the province is undoubtedly going to be a more difficult build-out, so I guess I'm not surprised that it would be done last, after they've built up some experience putting together the easier portions on the bald prairie side of things.
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay911 View Post
Not 100% sure what a "VHF P25 overlay" means. Will sites in the mountains have 700 and VHF frequencies? Will the mountain sites have VHF only? The Parks radios currently in use, as far as I'm led to believe, are not P25 compatible, so it's not a case of retaining the existing VHF equipment for cost-reduction. It might require agencies like mine - who do work in Kananaskis and etc - to consider one of the multi-band radios like the Harris Unity, Thales Liberty, or Motorola's APX line.
700 Mhz will suffer from multipath distortion really bad in the mountains, and will require waaaay more sites to get coverage. Also, you can't run trunking on a mountain top because of the heavy constant control channel current draw (solar power), so your radio will have to switch (manually or automatically?) from trunking to conventional in the foothills/mountains.

From what I've heard, they have no idea how they're going to make that part of it work. Should be interesting times ahead.

BB
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:22 PM
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CTV Edmonton - Gov't to replace aging radio communications network - CTV News

Here is the CTV story link. Click on the video story for a bit more info.

Jay the quote you mentioned regarding staging came from the Edmonton Journal.

Also AHS has concerns about coverage in North/East and North/West Alberta so VHF may stay in place there. Parks Canada has recently upgraded their radios to be one of the first who have rebanded to NFM so I'm sure they can do P25 VHF. You would never notice it much as they kept the same frequencies but you notice the audio is a little lower.

The news release estimates that 400 towers will be needed in Alberta.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryshute View Post
CTV Edmonton - Gov't to replace aging radio communications network - CTV News

Here is the CTV story link. Click on the video story for a bit more info.

Jay the quote you mentioned regarding staging came from the Edmonton Journal.

Also AHS has concerns about coverage in North/East and North/West Alberta so VHF may stay in place there. Parks Canada has recently upgraded their radios to be one of the first who have rebanded to NFM so I'm sure they can do P25 VHF. You would never notice it much as they kept the same frequencies but you notice the audio is a little lower.

The news release estimates that 400 towers will be needed in Alberta.
Looking good there, Harry! Nice to see!
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:50 PM
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Alberta gets ready to introduce a new emergency response radio system

Thanks Colby here is a link to Global Edmonton. The Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun both have good articles including one talking about Yellowhead County being miffed because they just set up a new system. What about St. Albert and Strathcona County? They must not be talking
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beeperboy View Post
700 Mhz will suffer from multipath distortion really bad in the mountains, and will require waaaay more sites to get coverage. Also, you can't run trunking on a mountain top because of the heavy constant control channel current draw (solar power), so your radio will have to switch (manually or automatically?) from trunking to conventional in the foothills/mountains.

From what I've heard, they have no idea how they're going to make that part of it work. Should be interesting times ahead.

BB
What you said was suppose to happen in Montana and Idaho who just switched to a 700 Mhz system.

Talking with a few techs working on the system (Montana-Idaho) in January, seems this is not a problem. They continue to advance on the system and from what I heard so far so good. End users appear to happy with system so far.
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Old 03-05-2011, 1:35 PM
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I see CTV Edmonton pays the same attention to detail as CTV Calgary. 'Chief, Captain, whatever, he's a fireman. We got his name right, didn't we?'

I don't know whether I feel sympathy for Yellowhead or not. For one thing (a) there's no requirement to be on the provincial system, nor be an early adopter, although I would think that for a lot of the reasons that have been mentioned in this thread before, it's the right thing for an agency to do. (2) Everyone has known that this system was coming for a number of years now - and Yellowhead's new system, unless they have gone to something even newer than what I'm aware of, is an MPT1327 trunk that was rolled out in 2008 - right as we were doing the PQR for AFRRCS. I suspect that Wheatland County might be in a similar boat, having just gone TRBO a year or so ago. The Calgary Regional Partnership (now defunct AFAIK, but IIRC it was Calgary, Rockyview, Strathmore, Foothills, and maybe Mountain View and Canmore as well) was literally within days of putting signatures on an expansion of 753F when the province announced AFRRCS, years ago. They decided to make do with what they had until AFRRCS came along. Having said that, there's nothing that says if Yellowhead et al does want to get the features of AFRRCS but doesn't want to throw away their system before its contract/EOL comes up, that they couldn't put a Smartbridge or ACU in and link their existing system to a talkgroup (or more) on AFRRCS.

It would be really useful to know more about how Montana's system is faring. I'd been trying to learn about it over the past few years but don't exactly have ties to people in that state like some of you evidently do.

I am also very interested in the potential of AFRRCS having interconnectivity with PPSTN and 16E (or whatever Montana's system is called - I can't remember right this instant). I don't necessarily think I'm going to have to be able to communicate between Redwood Meadows and Cut Bank (or Estevan), but maybe Coutts and Sweetgrass might, for example, or Walsh and Maple Creek.
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Old 03-05-2011, 4:29 PM
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Where else other than Alberta can you work at CTV Calgary, then become the cowtown mayor and then Premier of the province A friend of mine who is an Edmonton Fire Captain was not very impressed with that demotion of his fire chief by CTV Edmonton.

I deKlein to reveal my sources on my Calgary trivia.
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