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Prairies and Pacific Coast - Forum for discussing radio information in the Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Yukon and British Columbia provinces.

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Old 10-20-2008, 11:31 PM
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Default AFRRCS - Alberta First Responders' Radio Communication System - INFO HERE

Hi folks,

This thread will serve to provide information about the Alberta First Responders' Radio Communication System (AFRRCS) which will be built and deployed province-wide in the next few years. Only confirmed, qualified info will be posted in this thread. Discussions about the system and other such info will be diverted to regular threads here in this forum.

Among the topics that will be posted in this thread are:

- System information (what we have learned to date and what has been published)
- Where and when the system will be deployed
- Who/what will build the system
- What agencies will be on the system to begin with
- What agencies will/may be able/willing to join the system in the future
- What features the system will have
- If it can be scanned
- If the above is true, what scanners will track the system and how to program them properly

All the information here is going to be info that is available to the public. No proprietary or confidential information will be posted. In the same vein, it is hoped that no publicly available information will be kept secret.

For reference, the previously stickied thread about the system can be found here.

I'll be posting the info we have at present shortly.
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:40 AM
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The Alberta First Responders' Radio Communication System is a network being planned for and by the Province of Alberta for the benefit of all first responders (fire, police, ambulance, and other emergency and public safety agencies). It is being developed by Service Alberta and the Alberta Solicitor General's Office.

Alberta's government services use a variety of different radio systems, some of which are very near the end of their useful lives. Many of the agencies formerly used a system called the Multi-Departmental Mobile Radio System (MDMRS), which was a system of UHF repeaters across the province. Agencies on the system included Fish & Wildlife, Alberta Forest Service, Transportation (aka highways/commercial vehicle enforcement), and other similar departments. Forestry, along with Fish & Wildlife and other elements of Sustainable Resources Development (aka SRD), have switched to a VHF network of repeaters known as FireNet. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who are charged with the responsibility of almost all rural policing in Alberta and some urban duties as well, plus the expected federal mandates, use what is called PACS, or the Province of Alberta Communications System. This is yet another network of VHF repeaters.

Besides all the above, there are other agencies using MiKE phones (iDEN networks), i.e. Alberta Sheriffs; and other public safety agencies both provincial and municipal that have their own radio systems, i.e. City of Edmonton, City of Calgary, and etc.

All the radio communications of the Government of Alberta are to be put on the AFRRCS network, as well as all communications for the RCMP in the province of Alberta. Other services, like your local fire department, ambulance services (be they provincial or local/municipal), local bylaw, etc., will be able to join the network if they choose, but joining it is not mandatory.

The province will bear the costs for the towers and the equipment necessary for making the network function. End-user agencies that voluntarily join the network will be responsible only for purchasing the radios they need to use the system.

The province has pre-qualified four vendor consortiums for bidding on the network. As of October 15, 2008, the vendors have been invited to submit bids for building the system. The province will choose the winning vendor on February 18, 2009. Construction will begin shortly thereafter, and is estimated to be fully completed by 2012.

OVERALL SYSTEM DETAILS

The system will be the first trunked 700MHz public safety system in Canada. The system will use the APCO P25 standard and will be compatible with any radios that meet said standard in the 800MHz band. Many manufacturers such as Motorola, M/A-COM, Tait, and Kenwood currently offer P25/700 equipment.

As of this point (October 2008), it is too early to determine what, if any, scanners will be able to monitor the system. If the system is a pure P25/700 network, modern scanners such as the Uniden BCD396T, BCD996T, BCD396XT, GRE PSR-500, and PSR-600 will track the network properly. However, there is incomplete information in the request for proposal to identify whether or not the system will encrypt the trunking control channel. If the system operates with encrypted control channels, monitoring via scanner will not be possible in any way.

VENDORS

The province has identified the four vendors that are vying for the network. The vendors are actually consortiums of technology companies working together. Only the major consortium partner has been identified for each vendor competing. They are, in alphabetical order:

Bell Mobility Inc.
General Dynamics Canada Ltd.
Raytheon Canada Limited
TELUS

BUILD AND DEPLOYMENT

The province has stated that construction will begin in "Summer 2009". The RFP (Request For Proposals) is scheduled to close in February 2009, so construction could possibly begin sooner.

The intent is to deploy the system in stages, broken down by Census Divisions. The first CD to be developed is intended to be Edmonton, as a prototype system. From there, the province has a preferred order of deployment, but the vendor could override it if they can provide good reason to the province that deviating from the province's plan would be of benefit. The preferred order of deployment is included in the RFP document, which is available on the Alberta Purchasing Connection website at http://www.purchasingconnection.ca.

Further information will be posted as it becomes available and/or relevant.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:19 AM
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As mentioned in the other thread(s), there is now a web site on the Government of Alberta webspace.

As of today, Monday, 05 January 2009, there is a FAQ that officially answers some of the basic questions. The "Material Archive" page also has a long list of links to pages that help act as a glossary of sorts.

Check out the last link at the bottom of the page before the blue GoA banner I had nothing to do with it, I swear!
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Old 02-13-2009, 3:17 PM
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Just now, the Alberta Purchasing Connection site has amended the RFP for AFRRCS ... the deadline has been changed from 02/18/09 to 04/29/09, with no explanation I can discern.
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Old 04-22-2009, 10:55 PM
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*sigh*

Deadline now changed to 2009/05/20... no explanation...
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Old 01-22-2010, 4:49 PM
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Just got word from Service Alberta that the modified RFP closed on January 15, and the selection process has begun. The AFRRCS website will be updated when there is news to report.
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Old 10-12-2010, 6:06 PM
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Okay, knock me over with a feather!

Quote:
Originally Posted by https://www.solgps.alberta.ca/AFRRCS/Pages/Updates.aspx
(T)he GoA has initiated conversations with Harris Canada Systems, Inc. (Harris) to finalize a contract for the design, construction, and implementation and operation of the Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System.
The above quote is from the AFRRCS web site's October update.

I've requested (since I'm no longer moderating here) that this thread be opened now so that discussion of the new system can commence.
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Old 10-13-2010, 10:10 AM
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During the Canadian Chief's of Police confrence this summer in Edmonton Harris had a greyhound bus sized unit set up demonstrating a 700 Mhz trunked system. They also unveiled a new all band (heavy) portable radio that does VHF, UHF, 700 and 800 Mhz.
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Old 10-13-2010, 8:11 PM
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Heavy, you say? Got anything more definitive? I'm seriously thinking about asking for a Thales Liberty to evaluate once we have signal in my area - provided the Liberty isn't obsoleted by then. Probably look at a Motorola device as well, and would like to know more about this Harris one.

I have confirmation from project folks that the system RFP remains for a true, pure P25 system, so fear not about OpenSky or any other proprietary junk.
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:07 AM
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Ah Jay I knew you would ask me that as I had put away my notes. It is an XG-100P Unity radio. The link is a Harris ad on UTube but the Harris site has the specs on this new heavy radio. Haha I agree I could have been a bit more specific. "He's not heavy he's my brother" should become the next Harris ad.

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Old 10-14-2010, 8:26 PM
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It's been pointed out to me that Harris does not have a contract yet, i.e. AFRRCS has not been awarded to Harris Corp at this time. They're just in talks with the AFRRCS team. Sorry for the confusion. A little too eager to get the thing off the ground, I guess
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Old 10-14-2010, 8:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay911 View Post
It's been pointed out to me that Harris does not have a contract yet, i.e. AFRRCS has not been awarded to Harris Corp at this time. They're just in talks with the AFRRCS team. Sorry for the confusion. A little too eager to get the thing off the ground, I guess
That update on the SolGen web page was sort of oddly worded. Umm, we've decided on Harris, and awarded them the tender, but if we decide we don't like them or they have bad breath, then we'll talk to Gen Dyn and Motorola. Can you say law suit boys and girls? Very ambiguous. I've been involved in large RFP's before, and you just don't do stuff like this.

I bumped into a couple of Harris engineers earlier this summer, and they were out scouting new AFRRCS's tower sites. Did they know months ago they'd won? Hmm, strange.

Hey Jay, have you heard any details about who will install and maintain the new system? I have a vested interest as I'm about to get very busy, or very unemployed.

BB
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edmscan View Post
Harry ... as you know the systems of choice have been P25 700 MHz systems in the US and Canada in their stupidity are mothballing perfectly good systems and doing the same. The system in Saskatchewan is a perfect example of what to do, and think outside the box. It will take many more towers to provide the same coverage on 700 MHz than on a similar VHF system .. and really the people that are in the know are being told to push for a new system. These are of course the telecom providers .. they just see the dollar signs when they think of a new P25 system. Will the system be better than the Edacs system in Saskatchewan ? I think we have seen that Edacs is tried and proven. But the idiots in Alberta that are pushing the new P25 system need to pull their heads out of their *****.

I think we have to look forward to a over priced and ill performing provincial system in the future. They would be better to go to a VHF system as Saskatchewan has done. Dumb asses ... thats about all I can say.
Remember that Saskatchewans new VHF system IS a P25, and they are still working out the bugs, but it does appear to be better than EDACS because of the geograpy and terrain, lower VHF seems to work better, but I"m no expert, just an observation. I did use the Fleetnet EDACS for 3 years in the northern part of SK, and it sucked for reception in the trees, but I think RF will always be affected by wooded areas and other obstacles. Happy Holidays Alberta...
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:19 PM
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Discussion about the AFRRCS is better suited for the AFRRCS thread, but I'll respond here and ask a moderator to move the posts over there afterwards.

The understanding I have from the documentation I've seen is that there isn't enough VHF frequencies left to cover all the allocations required for a provincewide system - especially if the neighboring province is already doing the same. (Imagine what would happen if a radio in Alberta caught a P25 CC on skip from SK. Yes, odds are good that the system ID and other info that the radio receives would prevent it from affiliating, but it would have to check that on that control channel every time it "found" it.)

What would you guys do about the lack of VHF allocations available? Is it as simple as re-using the same frequencies currently in use as simplex/conventional repeated frequencies, i.e. make a trunk site out of 155.79, 155.805, 155.52, 155.535, etc in one area, while those same freqs are in use as conventional repeaters in others? I'm suspecting that's what Newfoundland is/has been doing with theirs. Someone like MikeOxlong would know better about whether or not that's what the OPP/MOH did in Ontario.

If that kind of thing is not plausible - if you can't surrender those allocations to build out the new trunk system, because they still have to be used by the field crews while the trunk system is being built - where do you propose to get the VHF frequencies necessary to build out the system?

I'm not trying to be a smart-***, I genuinely want to know how you would go about this. Maybe it's something that the AFRRCS folks (who do watch this forum/thread) haven't considered and would be willing to work on - after all, the system is still hugely theoretical as far as we all know, so it should still all be "up in the air".
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Old 12-04-2010, 6:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay911 View Post

If that kind of thing is not plausible - if you can't surrender those allocations to build out the new trunk system, because they still have to be used by the field crews while the trunk system is being built - where do you propose to get the VHF frequencies necessary to build out the system?
Good question Jay. When I first heard about AFRRCS about 10 years ago, I assumed they were going to assign the defunct XJ mobile telephone channels to it. Between the 24 XJ repeater pairs, and the existing 20 or so PACS channels it would have been a good start. Industry Canada foolishly gave the XJ repeater pairs to ASRD, so that's out of the question now.

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Old 12-05-2010, 3:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay911 View Post
Discussion about the AFRRCS is better suited for the AFRRCS thread, but I'll respond here and ask a moderator to move the posts over there afterwards.
Merged Jay
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Old 12-06-2010, 5:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beeperboy View Post
That update on the SolGen web page was sort of oddly worded. Umm, we've decided on Harris, and awarded them the tender, but if we decide we don't like them or they have bad breath, then we'll talk to Gen Dyn and Motorola. Can you say law suit boys and girls? Very ambiguous. I've been involved in large RFP's before, and you just don't do stuff like this.

I bumped into a couple of Harris engineers earlier this summer, and they were out scouting new AFRRCS's tower sites. Did they know months ago they'd won? Hmm, strange.

Hey Jay, have you heard any details about who will install and maintain the new system? I have a vested interest as I'm about to get very busy, or very unemployed.

BB
I've been involved in large RFP's with the Alberta Gov, Fed's and private industry. This seems to be pretty normal to me. They award the tender RFP then work out the commerical terms, insurance..... after the fact.

Just because you won the RFP/Tender does not guarntee you got the work until the contract is signed.

If both parties can not agree on the contract commerical terms, insurance... next in line steps in and takes a shot at it.

As for law suit, I swear Motorola auto-generates a law suit after every RFP/Tender loss, Las Vegas comes to mind, there are many more
General Dynamics is still busy working on the Atco radio system that seems to have stalled.

Last edited by brechtd; 12-06-2010 at 5:40 PM..
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:31 AM
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News Release


March 4, 2011
New province-wide radio system helps improve public safety and emergency response

Edmonton... Emergency responders across Alberta will soon be able to communicate directly and easily with one another thanks to a new province-wide radio communications network.

The network will mean better coordinated and integrated responses among first responders, particularly in emergencies or natural disasters. The system will also be used for the day-to-day operations of first responders, such as RCMP, municipal and First Nations police, fire, and emergency medical personnel, as well as sheriffs, Alberta Emergency Management Agency and fish and wildlife officers.
“This project reflects our government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Albertans,” said Premier Ed Stelmach. “It’s impossible to predict emergencies, but when they do occur, this new radio system will help first responders deal with these events as quickly and effectively as possible.”
“This new communications network is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in Canada, and an investment in those first responders who Albertans rely on for help during an emergency,” said Frank Oberle, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. “Effective communication among these agencies is fundamental to a coordinated and integrated response, and critical to ensuring Albertans receive the help they need when they need it.”
The new network will allow seamless communication among participating first responder agencies. It is being implemented as part of Alberta’s new law enforcement framework, which was announced last December to strengthen community policing, integration, and police accountability.
Harris Systems Canada Inc. has been awarded the contract to build the new radio network. Construction on the $370-million project will begin in March and implementation will be phased in between 2011 and 2014.
The Alberta government is working to build a better Alberta by fostering economic growth, strengthening our health and education systems, investing in infrastructure, supporting safe and strong communities and ensuring a clean and healthy environment.
-30-
Backgrounder: Alberta First Responder Radio System
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:33 AM
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Yay! About time they pulled the trigger.

I saw the allocation in the budget when it was released - hoped it was only a matter of time.

Now, to see what they do about construction/deployment....
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Old 03-04-2011, 2:27 PM
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wondering now how much of the unit cost (handhelds) we will have to pay (or all of it) for rural halls to be on that system.
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