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Silent Key
Dec 30, 2015
White Haven Pa
Follow up on editorial

As an amateur radio operator I was impressed by your report on Pennsylvania's Open Sky radio system.
The current system uses 800 MHz, which is "line of sight" communication. It takes more infrastructure to deploy such a system. I.e: more towers.

If the state simply upgraded their VHF system by using repeaters on existing mountain top sites. I predict the system could have been deployed for a fraction of the cost. Amateur radio operators have such systems. They can communicate over vast distances using frequencies very close to frequencies used by the State Police. I believe the project was troubled from the start. You had politicians making decisions without the technical knowledge of how radio emissions work.

Another point. When the state issued its RFP it asked for bidders to name three "operating" systems. Ma/Com at the time listed Fed X and the Orange County California bus system. The problem: Fed X was using their system for data not voice and the transportation system? The radio system was not "operating". In fact when the RFP was sent to the state the radios were not even installed in the buses. That's according to a California spokesman.

Another issue. The Open Sky radio system is patented. That means there is no bidding for replacement of equipment. That's because only one company makes the equipment.

You may also be interested that's a few police depts across the nation have dumped their Open Sky systems.
Las Vegas police dump problem radio system | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Another potential problem. To help fill in the places where the radio signals were weak a series of equipment was set up primarily on poles. Most of the poles are connected to the system via phone lines. If bad weather should blow down the telephone lines that "fill in" system would fail.
A lot of us who monitor public safety transmissions are interested in what's going on.

Pennsylvania Radio Discussion Forum - The RadioReference.com Forums

It's my personal opinion an independent investigation should be launched. Lawmakers can easily be swayed the wrong way because most of them do not have the technical knowledge needed to understand even how basic radio systems work.
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