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Pottsville, PA - Police, firefighters learn about digital radio equipment

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joetnymedic

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West Haven, CT
I'm not pointing fingers but a lot of departments are under the impression that they have to go digital in order to be narrow band compliant and that is not correct. You can be analog and be narrow band. also I hope these radios can in fact be digital dispatch wise and analog on fireground. Digital had a lot of issues a while back because of all the noise from equipment, etc. Hopefully that's been fixed. There have been problems with digital radio and fire service compatibilities for while. This was out there from a few years ago Radio woes: Digital radio problems surface in last week’s mayday in Cincinnati. Newspaper looks at the issue. | STATter911.com some more here Digital Radio Problems | Daryl Jones' Weblog and some more http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo42139.pdf. As long as they can fix the issues so be it, but until it does get fixed, why put peoples lives at greater risk than they already are.
 

Steveradio

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LehighValley/Poconos Pa
That region already has way too many radio issues, when ran in Tamaqua are the lo-band 46mhz radios worked only mobile to county portable forget it. They were starting get vehicle repeaters but that also was leading too issues.. I have feeling its more money issues and who is going paying for the required upgrades. From having a fleet of non-narrowband compliant radios to having purchase new narrowband compliant radios thats alot $$$ fork over.
 

chankel

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Ephrata, PA
So what radios are they getting that the portables are $7000/each MSRP? Sounds a bit far fetched to me.
My (cynical) answer would be, in order of overcharges:
1. marked up Thales Liberty with AES encryption and (already overpriced, $205) remote mic
2. marked up Harris Unity with AES encryption and Bluetooth wireless mic (if it comes out...)
3. marked up APX7000 with AES encryption and HMN series remote control / display mic
 

jim202

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New Orleans region
Sounds more like a slick radio sales move by a vendor to fill someones bank account. \

There are many options and many lower priced radios that will supply the required communications than the proposed system presented.

My bet is that the agency has fell for the smoking mirrors presentation and has no one qualified to stand up and ask the technical questions about what was presented. Shame on the agency and the tax payers for allowing a railroad process pushed by the vendor.

Let me guess, that any specs that may have been presented were provided by the radio vendor and not the agency. Again shame on the agency for falling for this scam. This happens all the time and most agencies just believe anything the radio vendor says. The agencies NEVER take any action to find out just what the truth is about the radios and systems that are being laid out on the table.
 

902

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Downsouthsomewhere
I'm not pointing fingers but a lot of departments are under the impression that they have to go digital in order to be narrow band compliant and that is not correct. You can be analog and be narrow band. also I hope these radios can in fact be digital dispatch wise and analog on fireground. Digital had a lot of issues a while back because of all the noise from equipment, etc. Hopefully that's been fixed. There have been problems with digital radio and fire service compatibilities for while. This was out there from a few years ago Radio woes: Digital radio problems surface in last week’s mayday in Cincinnati. Newspaper looks at the issue. | STATter911.com some more here Digital Radio Problems | Daryl Jones' Weblog and some more http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo42139.pdf. As long as they can fix the issues so be it, but until it does get fixed, why put peoples lives at greater risk than they already are.
Just about all of these issues has been addressed in new vocoder implementation and DSP algorithms in transceivers. The unfortunate thing is that, like trunking was 15 years ago, the sea monster stories from the pioneering days continue to propagate. Even young people on the job who have never encountered these failures first-hand can recite the sea monster stories as though they were gospel. I know a lot of people who are in major city fire departments who are working first-hand with manufacturers, testing labs, and researchers to insure communications issues are minimized on the fireground. People might not be aware, but there are several forums where manufacturers even sit down with each other to work through common feature sets.

Some of the things I'm aware of: some manufacturers have noise cancellation algorithms independent of the vocoder. The new versions of the vocoders (second generation AMBE) are optimized to deal with a high noise environment. Programming with inhibit on proper NAC code greatly reduces (but cannot eliminate) the possibility of destructive "doubling" (two people keying up at the same time). This might conflict with some legacy use. Some fire departments used one frequency for fireground operations and depended on the FM capture effect to talk to the closest people.

Unfortunately, some manufacturers are only putting this into their top shelf products. This is where the homework needs to be done. That's fine. Others are putting them in their complete product lines. We can't be single-manufacturer-centric anymore. Awareness is one's friend. Part of the homework is to get demonstration devices from each manufacturer and put them out into the street or at the training center so that the people who are using them get to weigh in on how well they will work for them.

And, everyone is correct, there is *NO* mandate to go digital when one narrowbands (which should have happened already, but...). However, some digital formats can recover range and provide enhanced features that the initial system might not have had.

Closing thought (and this is not a slam on Schuykill County, but on grants in general) - our services have to get out of the "grants mentality." Local services have to shift into planning and budgeting so that things can stay maintained and operational, as opposed to fall into disrepair or decay because there is no grant funded sustainment to operate the program they couldn't afford to initiate on their own. When a grant comes along, there are any number of interests lining up for the money as though it were Pez. It brings out the worst in both recipients and vendors, and "it's not my money" (yeah, right). Communications is a core sustaining element of emergency services and needs to be budgeted as much as new vehicles or other equipment.
 

Dist21Chief

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Aug 14, 2007
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I don't guys...but for our towns things worked so much better on VHF repeaters. Things got into a "keep up with the Joan's". Digital this, trunked that, 30 mill here 50 mill there. Replacing radios for my department? I could have replaced my fleet of failing patrol cars. Complexity is the enemy of reliability in some cases. K.I.S.S. Is a motto lost anymore. Stay safe and have a Happy New Year guys.
 

iamhere300

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Chappell Hill TX
I'm not pointing fingers but a lot of departments are under the impression that they have to go digital in order to be narrow band compliant and that is not correct. You can be analog and be narrow band. also I hope these radios can in fact be digital dispatch wise and analog on fireground. Digital had a lot of issues a while back because of all the noise from equipment, etc. Hopefully that's been fixed. There .
We experienced better range and clarity when we went P25.

I know for a FACT that departments in that county were told by their local two way radio vendor (and big paging provider in that area also) that they were REQUIRED to go digital, to meet narrowbanding requirements, for their LOW BAND system.

I think that too many of the people involved are caught up in trying to get a new radio system by whatever means they can, when some of those departments are still happy as clams with their low band system.
 
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