• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

    We've noticed a huge increase in rants and negative posts that revolve around agencies going to encryption due to the broadcasting of scanner audio on the internet. It's now worn out and continues to be the same recycled rants. These rants hijack the threads and derail the conversation. They no longer have a place anywhere on this forum other than in the designated threads in the Rants forum in the Tavern.

    If you violate these guidelines your post will be deleted without notice and an infraction will be issued. We are not against discussion of this issue. You just need to do it in the right place. For example:
    https://forums.radioreference.com/rants/224104-official-thread-live-audio-feeds-scanners-wait-encryption.html

Lancaster County PA divorces M/ACom!!

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Tommahawk

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First off I will say in my opinion that I believe that the M/ACom Open Sky system has been flawed from the start. It looks great on paper, and like most theories looks like the best idea out there till you actually start to deploy it. While you could contribute some of the problems with the Lancaster County system to a 3rd party that was in charge of the tower erection I believe the system wouldn't have been working properly for at least another 10 years.

Anyway the great news is that Tuesday March 11th, 2008 Lancaster County "Officially" denounced the Open Sky System and are going to go with another vendor, hopefully a Motorola System. Since the infrastructure is already deployed the new system will be able to piggyback on what is already there and cross our fingers, should be up and running in 2011. Only 6 years after the Open Sky system was to be deployed, but hey whose counting

The article is available at http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/217991

By CHAD UMBLE, Staff

For more than a decade, Lancaster County has been trying to upgrade the circa-1950 emergency radio system that often requires firefighters to set up radio relays to communicate effectively at emergency scenes.

Buildings or natural features can easily block radio transmissions, forcing firefighters to create a "whisper-down-the-lane" scenario to talk to one another.

Also, in the current system, police officers and firefighters can't communicate over the same radios.

In 2000, the county hired the company M/A-Com to set up a $20 million system to modernize emergency radio transmissions, making blocked signals a thing of the past.
Today, county commissioners removed what they say had become the latest impediment to the long-delayed radio system: M/A-Com.

During their work session this morning, the commissioners terminated their contract with the Massachusetts-based company, saying they'll be able to complete the radio system cheaper and faster with someone else.

The county will now begin shopping around for a new vendor and estimates the system can be completed within two years — at a considerable savings.

Commissioner Craig Lehman said it was important to find a radio system that works the best for emergency responders.

"When we're talking about those folks that protect us, this really is a system that is designed to protect them. And that is very, very important," Lehman said.

Calling it a win-win situation, Commissioner Scott Martin welcomed the move to end M/A-Com's contract.

"The most important thing in this process is to make sure the people that are utilizing this system are getting a system that meets their needs and helps them do their job in the realm of public safety," Martin said.

Pennsylvania had an existing contract with M/A-Com for a statewide emergency communications network, which allowed Lancaster and other jurisdictions that signed up with M/A-Com to get various price breaks.

But Mike Weaver, director of Lancaster County-Wide Communications, said cost savings from piggybacking on the state contract had been lost amid other rising costs.

The county has paid $13.8 million to M/A-Com for towers, a microwave system and shelters, which can be used in a new system. But as technology advanced, the county said it noticed that M/A-Com's radios cost a lot more than those being offered by some other vendors.

For example, a portable radio from M/A-Com would cost $8,874, while a similar radio from another vendor is $2,674, according to the county.

The county was looking at additional costs of $32 million — for a total of $46 million — to fulfill the M/A-Com contract and to buy mobile and portable radios and set up a 10-year maintenance contract.

Going with another vendor, the county estimates it can save $7.6 million, knocking the total cost for the system to around $39 million.

Lester Houck, chairman of the Radio Project Committee, which has overseen the effort, said the decision to drop M/A-Com had been a long time coming.

"It is definitely good. There really is no downside. The only downside is the time that it has taken, but that has also let us see more options," Houck said.

The county will now be meeting with vendors to discuss the county's needs and expects to select a new vendor sometime this year.

Nicholas Summers, president of Lancaster County's Firemen's Association and a former deputy fire chief in Lancaster City, welcomed the news that the county is moving ahead without M/A-Com.

Summers said it seems like the county was ready to finally deliver on its promise of a new communications system, although he reflected some of the frustration of years of waiting.

"Every time that anybody says anything, it is always 'two or three years away.' I don't know if two or three years will ever get here," he said in a phone interview.

CONTACT US: cumble@LNPnews.com or 481-6031
 

Tommahawk

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Related Article from http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/218066

Radio upgrade on hold
Intelligencer Journal
Published: Mar 13, 2008
01:59 EST
Lancaster

By P.J. REILLY, Staff

A year ago, Lancaster County officials said they expected to have a new radio system for local police, fire and ambulance crews up and running by now.

It's not. And the realization of such a system took yet another step backward Tuesday.

At their weekly work session Tuesday, the county commissioners voted to terminate the county's 8-year-old contract with M/A-COM, Inc. of Lynchburg, Va., to build an 800-megahertz emergency radio system.

Mike Weaver, director of Lancaster County-Wide Communications, said a potentially more powerful and cost-efficient technology will become available next year. The county wants to explore that possibility before putting a new system in place.

"The good news is, once we decide on a technology, we can move very fast, because we won't have to build any towers," Weaver said.

Jeffrey Logan, an M/A-COM sales director, said the 800-megahertz system can work and be affordable, but the county never made a full commitment to ensuring its success.

"The system they signed up for required 54 (radio towers)," he said. "The county built 32. We can't help that they only built 32 sites."

The county has been working since 1999 on the $35 million, 800-megahertz system, which has been touted as an upgrade to "the patchwork quilt" of radio systems used by police departments, fire companies, ambulance crews and others, such as snowplow drivers, in the county since at least the 1950s.

The 800-megahertz project has been dogged by problems, including a two-year stall when tower-building contractor Rohn Industries — hired by the state — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2003.

Also, Weaver said, it took longer than anticipated to build towers here, and the state government, which promised to establish an 800-megahertz system across Pennsylvania, hasn't kept pace with Lancaster County's efforts.

One of the benefits the county saw in that system, said Les Houck, a Salisbury Township supervisor and co-chairman of the committee overseeing the county's radio project, was that local deputy sheriffs, police officers and others could leave the county and stay in radio contact with their headquarters no matter where they went in the state.

"For whatever reason, the state has not followed through," Houck said. "Maybe the powers-that-be saw (other) frequencies coming available."

The Federal Communications Commission recently ordered an entire band of frequencies used by television stations to be vacated by February 2009, according to Houck.

"We would have loved to have built a system (using those frequencies) back in 2000, but they weren't available," Weaver said. "At that time, 800-megahertz was all that was out there."

According to Houck, the new frequencies allow for better radio communications inside buildings, and the portable radios that would be carried by police officers, firefighters, etc. for use with those frequencies are cheaper than 800-megahertz radios.

Weaver said emergency responders typically pay about $1,000 per radio.

With the 800-megahertz system, he said, those responders were faced with price tags of $3,000 to $8,000 apiece for radios.

The system the county now is exploring would require radios that cost in the $1,000 range, Weaver said, and could result in a potential savings of $7.6 million to emergency responders countywide.

Logan said the county's estimates for 800-megahertz radios are "grossly inaccurate."

"Our portable radios are about $2,500, which is competitive," he said.

The coming availability of the new frequencies, Weaver said, has attracted the attention of emergency communications officials in York, Dauphin and Lebanon counties, which are working on new systems based on those frequencies.

"If we build a (similar) system, it's real easy to talk to our neighbors here," he said.

But until the binding contract with M/A-COM was terminated, Lancaster County officials could not fully investigate the other system or negotiate with other vendors.

So far, Lancaster County has paid about $13.8 million to M/A-COM for electronics equipment, Logan said.

The county was facing additional costs of $32 million to fulfill the M/A-COM contract, buy mobile and portable radios and set up a 10-year maintenance contract.

The millions of dollars the county already has spent wasn't wasted, Houck said, because the towers that were built and the equipment that was purchased can be reused no matter what type of system the county selects.

However the county chooses to proceed, Houck said, a new radio system could be up and running within two years.

E-mail: preilly@lnpnews.com
 

maus92

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I'm curious about the new frequencies coming available to allow (portable) radios in the $1,000 range....

CA
Annapolis
 

Firebuff66

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CT
Motorola XTS1500s would be around $1200-1500 depending on options.
The GE radios are $2500-2900 depending on options
 

CAPTLPOL1

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I am sure the $8800 quote must have been for full data interface with encyrption, and everything you could throw in one. I heard, however, that those radios should cost much less then that.
 

somme1916

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"Going with another vendor, the county estimates it can save $7.6 million, knocking the total cost for the system to around $39 million."

Unbelievable ! I'm sure one will be able to add another 5 mil to that figure if/when their "new" com systems come online. You know what's going to happen with a new vendor..."yeah that hardware (from the fired vendor) will work with our system...but it's gon'a cost ya".

Aren't the people in Lancaster County raising cain about this waste of money ??

Rob
 

bauker

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Feb 16, 2006
Messages
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Location
PA USA
I don't believe anyone will even try to make the Open Sky stuff work with anything else. It will most likely be scrapped (or sold to someone who is actually on such a system) and replaced with another vendor's IP-connectable P25 compatible repeaters, possibly even with some analog narrow band repeaters. One of the paths chosen is to apply for a waiver for newly released T-band freqs, and the firm handling that has an inside track, in my opionion. Maybe now you begin to understand the lower costs. Fireground simplex freqs will most likley be narrow-band analog. Equipment should come from several vendors, not just one, based on their interoperability on the system. It is no longer a closed market.

As far as the money, I for one Lancastrian am very glad to that the Director and the Radio Committee had the 'nads to tell M/A-com to shove it instead of wasting more money on the system. Too many parts of this great nation are stuck with systems they HATE just because some politician or managing wonk couldn't face up early enough to the fact that a mistake was made. Nothing is more stupid than throwing more money at something you hate, expecially after they didn't come up with a "plan B."

As far as the grant money, well that will most likely work out too, just wait and see. I would feel awful wasting grant money that a brother firefighter somewhere else could use, that is my view. We will get our turn for that $Million when the time comes. Stay tuned.
 

TomJH

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Jun 11, 2006
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Lititz, PA
Reply to somme1916, your post 3-18-08. Our media and government (not to mention countywide radio) believe in "keeping us in the dark", I think. There has been no coverage or discussion of this in the public that I have heard. Even lcwc web page is still showing the following quote:

"Lancaster County is in the process of building a new radio system for use by police, fire, EMS and various other county and municipal agencies.

At their public meeting on March 11, 2008, the Lancaster County Commissioners terminated the contract with M/A Com."

They are on top of things! Personally I don't feel this county knows what it is doing.
 

ElroyJetson

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Florida, where you wish you were!
M/A-Com 7200s with OpenSky are VERY expensive. A system model (full keypad) with an OpenSky feature package, including AES-256 encryption, starts at 5,315 dollars with NO other options.

Take 850 bucks off if you don't need encryption.

And it's ONLY 300 dollars' difference if you downgraded to the select model. The scan model is 200
less than the system model.

These are list prices. Contract negotiations can result in substantially lower costs.

It's possible to go all-out and break the 8000 dollar mark on one radio, yes.


Elroy
 
N

N_Jay

Guest
M/A-Com 7200s with OpenSky are VERY expensive. A system model (full keypad) with an OpenSky feature package, including AES-256 encryption, starts at 5,315 dollars with NO other options.

Take 850 bucks off if you don't need encryption.

And it's ONLY 300 dollars' difference if you downgraded to the select model. The scan model is 200
less than the system model.

These are list prices. Contract negotiations can result in substantially lower costs.

It's possible to go all-out and break the 8000 dollar mark on one radio, yes.


Elroy
Yes, but it makes much better news by posting the list prices instead of the contract prices.
 

muskrat99

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Exactly what is gained when firefighters, regular street police etc use encrypted state of the art communication systems? Sounds like a huge waste to me
 
N

N_Jay

Guest
Do you mean?
Exactly what is gained when firefighters, regular street police etc use a state of the art communication systems?
Much I would guess

Or do you mean?
Exactly what is gained when firefighters, regular street police etc use an encrypted communication systems?
It depends, but encryption and certainly its use by firefighters, and regular street police, was not even hinted at.


Sounds like a huge waste to me
You sure? What were they using before?
 
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