Inyo County Moving to Mobile Relay Associates NEXEDGE System?

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mcjones2013

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I came across an Inyo County Board of Supervisors agenda packet from the July 20, 2021 meeting. There is an agenda item that seems to suggest the Sheriff's Office is moving their primary operations over to the NXDN wide-area system owned/operated by Mobile Relay Associates. They will keep their legacy VHF channels for backup purposes, and for dispatching a fire agency. I have attached the agenda item here, it starts on page 185:

https://www.inyocounty.us/sites/default/files/2021-07/20210720AgendaPacket.pdf


1. MRA desires to provide for the lease of its Diga-Talk NEXEDGE Digital Network and to ensure queue priority for lnyo County's use thereof; to provide maintenance services required by lnyo County, all on the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement. MRA represents that it is a professional consultant, experienced in providing the foregoing services to public clients, is licensed in the State of California, and is familiar with the plans of lnyo County.

2. Inyo County desires to engage MRA to provide the use of the MRA Diga-Talk NEXEDGE Digital Network and to render maintenance and related services for lnyo County as set forth herein.

3. The MRA Diga-Talk NEXEDGE Digital Network shall provide the proper radio communications for lnyo County. The network consists of each site, its frequencies, repeaters, wiring, back-up generator and/or battery system, and power sources to keep the site online in a power outage and a sufficient length thereafter; and any other required equipment parts related to each site.


Inyo County currently communicates on a decades old radio system that consists of mountain top radio repeater sites, handheld and mobile radios, and a dispatching console. Our county, with its mountainous terrain and expansive square mileage, presents unique and costly radio system design challenges that require us to utilize many mountain top repeaters, as well as radio and microwave links to transmit radio signals to the far reaches of our boundaries.

In recent years, especially in recent months, we have seen the performance and reliability of our current radio system in drastic decline. Our current radio technicians do not believe our current system will make to the end of the year before a catastrophic, complete, system failure occurs. We currently do not have reliable or acceptable performance radio communication with our deputies in the Desert beat or the Tecopa Volunteer Fire Department. Recently there have been numerous, multiple-week, outages where our current radio system has been down in the desert leaving deputies, fire and ambulance service with no means of communication to be dispatched to calls or contact Dispatch for help. Our current microwave system has been unreliable and offering poor performance. Additionally, we have been plagued with system outages at our Silver Peak repeater station which covers the northern part of the county including Bishop and Round Valley. Repairs and service calls to radio technicians have been costly and occurring almost weekly.

Your Board, approved a contract with Mobile Relay Associates (MRA), to provide two-way radio service to the County. Since that approval, MRA has installed a radio repeater at the Sheriffs Administrative Building, further increasing the MRA network coverage in the Owens Valley.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office has deployed handheld and mobile radios to the resident deputies in Death Valley. Historically, the Sheriff’s Office has struggled to provide solid two-way radio communication between our Death Valley assets and the Sheriffs Dispatch Center. The end user feedback on MRA radio network performance and reliability from the resident deputies has been exceptional.

The Sheriff’s Office has also deployed several handheld and mobile radios to deputies assigned throughout the Owens Valley. The Owens Valley end users have also been impressed with capabilities of the MRA system.

With your Board's approval, the Sheriff’s Office seeks to continue to the next phase of this project. The next phase of the project includes purchase and installation of dispatching consoles that are compatible with both the MRA system and our legacy VHF system. It is still our intention to continue to use two channels of the legacy VHF system, one for dispatching county fire assets and one to use as a county back up radio channel. Also included in this phase, is the purchase and installation of mobile radios for the Sheriff's Office, Probation Office and Southern Inyo Fire Protection District. This phase also includes the purchase of portable radios for the Probation Office, and District Attorney's Office.

An upcoming phase will also refresh remaining legacy VHF equipment at mountain top sites, including the transition from the Tecopa microwave link to an IP link to improve reliability.

Completion of this phase will allow the County to begin taking excess repeater sites down, discontinue use of the State microwave link and reduce currently high repair costs.

With the completion of this phase, the County will need to increase monthly radio service subscriptions from 150 (current contract) to up to 250 at $26.50 per radio, per month (up to $6,625.00 per month max total) to accommodate the addition of Probation, District Attorney's Office and Southern Inyo Fire Protection District. These monthly expenses will be budgeted in the Sheriff's Budget with an offsetting revenue from the Criminal Justice-Realignment Budget for the Probation and District Attorney radios and an offsetting revenue from HHS for the Southern Inyo Fire Protection District radios.

With a sole-source agreement between Inyo County and MRA, we would utilize an all-inclusive, full-service, modern radio solution that could easily be scaled county wide. As the system takes the place of the County's existing radio infrastructure, significant cost savings will be recognized through out the County as repeater leases and maintenance will no longer be necessary.
 

mcjones2013

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Same company!

Data Removal Details RadioReference.com LLC received a letter on behalf of Mobile Relay Associates ("MRA")

Correct, except there's an MRA system in Utah that's not restricted.

Also, with NEXEDGE being much harder if not impossible to program rogue radios on, I don't see why the MRA NEXEDGE system should be restricted, but that's just me.

Back to the original topic, it's interesting that Inyo County is moving to a system they don't have direct control over.
 

AM909

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I'm confused. Can't you just look up their FCC license and get the info that way? Yet the info can't be posted here? SMH.
Try it and you'll see it's not that simple.

I, too, am surprised that a law enforcement agency is considering use of a non-government-controlled system. I assume they put building a new system out for bid and found they couldn't afford it. Is there a precedent for this (i.e. are there other departments on such systems)?
 

PrivatelyJeff

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It's actually incredibly simple. You just have to do a ULS search. For that matter, you could FOIA request the info from the FCC if you really wanted to. None of it is private information.

Sometimes. Some counties/cities have multiple licenses/call signs/FRNs tied to them (due to using different coordinators each time they need another frequency and some are under the county/city government directly and others are under the agency using it).
 

natedawg1604

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What would this mean in terms of Interop with nearby agencies, or access to mutual aid talkgroups on other nearby p25 sites/systems?
 

alcahuete

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Sometimes. Some counties/cities have multiple licenses/call signs/FRNs tied to them (due to using different coordinators each time they need another frequency and some are under the county/city government directly and others are under the agency using it).

Are they allowed to use their own license/call sign/FRN when using MRA's system?
 

alcahuete

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No. they would execute an agreement with MRA and the system uses MRA call signs.

Right. That's why it wouldn't be difficult to find at all, like I said. That's also why I don't see how their attorney could argue against posting information on this site that is public domain, but I'm sure it is far cheaper to just remove the material instead of fight it in court. :D
 

prcguy

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I can see RR cowling in the corner and not publishing info on this system, but what happens if people like me put the detailed info in a post on RR? I don't have the detailed info on the MRA system yet but when I do it will be posted everywhere I can stick it including signs over our local freeways if possible. The owners of MRA are super wealthy and think their stuff doesn't stink and that their $$ and lawyers can keep this public info a secret. Lets say no to that and post the crap out of it.

Right. That's why it wouldn't be difficult to find at all, like I said. That's also why I don't see how their attorney could argue against posting information on this site that is public domain, but I'm sure it is far cheaper to just remove the material instead of fight it in court. :D
 

mmckenna

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What would this mean in terms of Interop with nearby agencies, or access to mutual aid talkgroups on other nearby p25 sites/systems?


All NXDN capable radios will support analog. The NX-5000 line noted above will support NXDN, DMR and P25 (Phase 1 and 2).
In this part of California, analog is still king. It's easy enough to program in analog interop channels.
 

ladn

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Pretty interesting. As a frequent traveler in this area, it will be interesting so see how the system works for the users and if MRA will be able to keep it working.

Since this is a UHF system, and their present system is VHF, there's bound to be some coverage issues.
 

Mikek

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It's actually incredibly simple. You just have to do a ULS search. For that matter, you could FOIA request the info from the FCC if you really wanted to. None of it is private information.

The ULS data does not contain any technical or subscriber data about the system beyond frequencies, power and location. Who is subscribed and their talk group assignments, and the majority of other data about the configuration of the system is, in fact, private. A FOIA request won't get you anything more than ULS.

That said - Uniden and Whistler both rely on the RR database for their programming software. "Restricted" systems (including MRA) are available in that software, including subscriber and technical information.
 

alcahuete

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The ULS data does not contain any technical or subscriber data about the system beyond frequencies, power and location. Who is subscribed and their talk group assignments, and the majority of other data about the configuration of the system is, in fact, private. A FOIA request won't get you anything more than ULS.

Emission type, number of authorized radios on the sytem, power, etc., are all included. There is a lot of info you can get. Of course the subscribers and talk groups aren't included in the ULS. Why would they be? But that information can all be gathered over the public airwaves. It is absolutely not unlawful to determine that information and post it.
 

PrivatelyJeff

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I can see RR cowling in the corner and not publishing info on this system, but what happens if people like me put the detailed info in a post on RR? I don't have the detailed info on the MRA system yet but when I do it will be posted everywhere I can stick it including signs over our local freeways if possible. The owners of MRA are super wealthy and think their stuff doesn't stink and that their $$ and lawyers can keep this public info a secret. Lets say no to that and post the crap out of it.

They won’t and have already said so many years ago.
 

mmckenna

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MRA has pretty good coverage out there. With more sites and the ability to roam between them, it's entirely possible that this system will easily give them more coverage than anything they can build themselves. The also 'roam' with a system in Nevada...

 

MtnBiker2005

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From the above Agenda PDF:
“MRA does not control the Nevada/Rebel network until such time as it is merged in the future with the MRA network and cannot guarantee performance of that network.“

Made up the MRA sites FCC list for that area.
Posted the info on the local SierraScan group.
"Inyo County and Mobile Relay Associates NEXEDGE System
Some info to get your scanners searching and ready for the change over."
https://groups.io/g/SierraScan/message/1139
 

mmckenna

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From the above Agenda PDF:
“MRA does not control the Nevada/Rebel network until such time as it is merged in the future with the MRA network and cannot guarantee performance of that network.“

Standard boilerplate. NexEdge system bridges are easy to do. The two systems are bridged and can share coverage. They are just covering their rears until such time that MRA buys them out.
 
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