Marietta, GA - Cobb County to spend $13.3 million to upgrade emergency radio system

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MTS2000des

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I still don't know why we had to rush out in 2005 and whizz away $38 million dollars on phase 1. We could have banked that money, did what Fulton and Atlanta did, and wait for more competition in the marketplace, and bought multi-band subscriber radios like APX or EF Johnson VP900s (which are much less in price than APX radios), or went with another vendor like Harris who doesn't adopt such a short life cycle on their products and systems but NOOO...we had to be "on the cutting edge" and "buy NOW or miss out on this special deal!"...

What perplexes me is we just upgraded the network core to the latest Astro 25 release fairly recently and now Forsyth county DTRS runs off our zone controller.

What exactly are we getting for $11 million? APX radios? The article mentions an "EOL", I ASSume this is referring to the barely 7 year old XTS5000 portables and soon to be "EOL"ed XTL radios currently in Cobb's public safety fleet. Of course what isn't mentioned is that those XTS5000s will be FULLY supported by Motorola with depot repair, parts stock, software upgrades, etc for 5 years from Nov 29th when they were last shipped. When the XTLs go out of production, it's another 7 years from that date.

Sounds like someone had 11.1 million to burn and wants to buy new radios. I saw nothing about adding additional sites which are badly needed to deal with the coverage problems. Oh well. Notice this didn't go out for bid either.
Would have LOVED to see some EF Johnson VHF/700/800 VP900's out here which would do more for interop with Cherokee and Douglas county (still on VHF conventional) and the State of Georgia at half the price of the APX radios.

Dual band radios will do more for "interoperability" than ISSI. ISSI only works when other agencies want you to interconnect their networks and share resources. So far, only Forsyth county has entered into a meaningful IGA with Cobb. And this of course, means everyone has to have ISSI capable subscriber radios (it's a Flashport option on the XTS/XTLs and is not free).

But oh well. That's how we do it here in corn Cobb!
 
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Casey

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I'm pretty upset about this fast upgrade path as a Cobb Taxpayer as well. Just seems too soon. My question is which users are going to go TDMA exclusive and which might stay FDMA for the foreseeable future. I believe you can run both on what they are moving to. I'm also curious if anybody is hearing encryption rumblings, Cobb has traditionally been pretty open listening except for MCS/SWAT.
 

rapidcharger

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With the terrain challenges and all the dead spots and black holes and sloppy signals I've heard there in Cobb you really should consider all of your options including, yes, analog and yes, good heavens, bands other than 700/800. Phase 2 not only won't do anything about those problems, it does not yet support repeaterless operation so in the likely event that fireground operations in a dead zone may have to use talkaround, they're going to have to probably either not have radios or know that they need to switch to an analog channel. All while some apartment complex is burning to the ground.

The buyers need to consider what the goals are and try to set aside any outside influence in their decision making other than what is best for the people of cobb county.

What are the goals?
To reliably pass voice?
To reliably pass data?
To interoperate with other municipalities?
Officer safety?
To improve coverage?
To improve audio quality?
To switch to something before the manufacturers "best if used by" date?
To comply with some mandate or some industry lobby group's recommendation?
To use up funds that have been budgeted to or take advantage of grants?

Has the last $40 million brought the county closer to reaching any of those goals? Is there any reason to believe spending another $11 million will?

Why be an early adopter of phase 2?

This sounds like something they'd do down in Macon not in some place where I keep hearing about how responsive the government is.
 

MTS2000des

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I'm pretty upset about this fast upgrade path as a Cobb Taxpayer as well. Just seems too soon. My question is which users are going to go TDMA exclusive and which might stay FDMA for the foreseeable future. I believe you can run both on what they are moving to. I'm also curious if anybody is hearing encryption rumblings, Cobb has traditionally been pretty open listening except for MCS/SWAT.
Talkgroups can be strapped to phase 2 exclusively, or dynamically switch, depending on what radios are affiliated and registered on that TG. It's all in how the fleet mapping is done.

I don't think much is going to change initially Casey, but I admit I am not in the loop. I think they are just looking for an excuse to buy new subscriber radios (APX series) to replace the XTS/XTL radios which as of November 29th, are no longer MANUFACTURED (the XTL2500 and XTS2500 are, still in production). This does not mean these radios are no longer SUPPORTED which the article does not make clear.

I read the cancellation notice myself on my MOL account. The XTS5000 will continue to be fully supported until 2018 and the XTL5000s until 2020- this is standard fare with Motorola, 5 years on portables, and 7 years on mobiles/infrastructure hardware. This means the radios are serviced under depot warranty/flat rate repair, full repair parts stocked, software updates (including both HOST/DSP and CPS) and technical support- so I am not sure what hardware is at the "End of Life" because the manufacturer says otherwise, at least that is what they are telling the rest of us.

The network core is already up to date with ISSI connectivity to Forsyth's master site, so going phase 2 is just a matter of making minor changes.

I agree with you, this is a totally wasteful spending of public safety money, the radio system we have is still fully supported as far as the subscriber hardware is concerned, and is not that old. Heck, I use radios twice that age and they work just fine despite being "no longer supported". The analogy to computer hardware is asinine. That would have merit if the system core was old V4.1 or something like that. But it isn't.

And if the vendor is killing stuff off "Microsoft style", maybe it's time to shop for another vendor. Which, I will note, was not even done in this case. No open bid went out, or if it did, I never saw it on the purchasing site. Harris, EF Johnson and Cassidian/EADS all sell phase 2. EF Johnson actually has some very neat multi-band portables and mobiles that are quite a bit less than Motorola, and come standard with P25 trunking, AES encryption, and a 2 year warranty- all things Ma M charges extra for.

I would much rather that 11.1 million gone to hire the much needed additional officers, especially here in PCT 2 and 3, but I guess new toys are more important than the people who actually use them. I also did not see any additional sites being added, something also desperately needed. Phase 2 TDMA does NOT do anything to improve coverage. There are still many dead spots (that did not exist in the Smartnet II days) like:

-East-West Connector/South Cobb corridor to Fontaine Rd
-Terrell Mill Rd (many places) including Abbington Pointe (poor radio coverage cited as an issue in the recent "gang" incident this past Saturday)
-Roswell Rd near the loop, specifically the many apartments in that area
-Franklin Road in Marietta, many places with poor/no coverage
-Inside Kennestone hospital (ask me how I know :D)

Those are the trouble spots I am aware of. I am sure there are more.

With the proposed Braves stadium, additional sites would certainly be needed.

I'm more concerned however, with the need for MORE OFFICERS. I guess no one heard the PBA reps cries of how understaffed CCPD currently is and that we need to be recruiting/hiring new officers NOW to meet the demand of such a facility.

But I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
 
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RobertsRadio

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Cobb County Upgrade

The $13.3 million is only going to be used to replace the infrastructure at existing tower sites and some equipment in the 911 Center. This money will not be used to replace existing subscriber radios used by the County, cities, private ambulance services and other users of the radio system, nor does it pay for any additional tower sites needed to improve portable coverage throughout the county.
 

rapidcharger

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The $13.3 million is only going to be used to replace the infrastructure at existing tower sites and some equipment in the 911 Center. This money will not be used to replace existing subscriber radios used by the County, cities, private ambulance services and other users of the radio system, nor does it pay for any additional tower sites needed to improve portable coverage throughout the county.
Does that sound like the best use of that money to you? :confused:
 

K4SVT

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P25

yes it is expected to happen with the 3rd or 4th Quarter of 2014...according to some sources i have..why the push for TDMA PII...and MCS/SWAT are open most of the time...they only encrypt if its a very bad situation...but thats all the info i have right now at this time..but i guess they want to keep the listeners out like our public utility going to TETRA...that was a good move..Could have went P25 or NXDN or TRBO like Sawnee EMC did...but no control over anything..they have the money they will spend it in some way...

K4SVT
 

Casey

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Means you have to upgrade to the PSR 800!
Actually, RobertsRadio's (who's always right on the money) comment would seem to indicate that our current Phase I P25 scanners should be fine for most of the comms we listen to as portables/mobiles aren't being replaced en masse...the hundreds of XTS/XTL radios installed that work perfectly well don't do TDMA anyways, those who monitor the large county fleets should be ok for the the foreseeable future.
 

ProducerGuy

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What we have here, is $13 million ON TOP OF the already-spent $55 million. But that's OK, Cobb's the "most resource-rich county in the whole state".
 

ProducerGuy

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To respond about other vendors' radios, the Johnson is still only DUAL BAND. I'd want to push for the Harris Unity, or the seldom-mentioned Datron Guardian II - both of which "get all the channels", and would probably be cheaper than the APX's which, at best, are only dual band. UHF should not be left out in the cold just because some schmuck thinks it's "the security guard band". They want interoperability, they need to "be about it", not just talk about it.
 

rapidcharger

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If there is a budget surplus, why not just return that money to the taxpayers?

If the $13m was divided amongst every last man, woman and child in the county (not just taxpayers), everyone would get about $18 or $19 back which would probably be spent stimulating the local economy.

That's what our HOA has done for the past two years. There has been unspent money and rather blow it on something that isn't needed, it was returned to everyone.
 

MTS2000des

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yes it is expected to happen with the 3rd or 4th Quarter of 2014...according to some sources i have..why the push for TDMA PII...and MCS/SWAT are open most of the time...they only encrypt if its a very bad situation...but thats all the info i have right now at this time..but i guess they want to keep the listeners out like our public utility going to TETRA...that was a good move..Could have went P25 or NXDN or TRBO like Sawnee EMC did...but no control over anything..they have the money they will spend it in some way...

K4SVT
and the source of this speculation of yours is from where?

Nowhere in any documentation can I find the 11 million dollars buying phase 2 capable radios. I did find where several XTS2500s were procured by the Water department in 2013, but no capital outlays for phase 2 subscriber equipment.

I also checked the 2011 SPLOST FACT sheet:

Cobb County Government

Which has a drop down of all the projects the 2011 SPLOST supposedly funds, and the only two tabs for "800MHz" are for lighting and HVAC improvements at the master site?

The minutes/agendas from the most recent BOC meeting have not been posted.

I would like to see some real documents posted instead of conjecture and rumors. My employer is a subscriber on this system and has many radios on this system. I have asked and have not been told we are replacing any radios this coming year.

Anyone have a copy of the RFP or work session minutes?
 

K4SVT

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Its called the radio managers...but I'm just stating what i know and have been told...

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K4SVT

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We also at the water dept didn't use xts2500....maybe something new after I left...

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MTS2000des

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To respond about other vendors' radios, the Johnson is still only DUAL BAND. I'd want to push for the Harris Unity, or the seldom-mentioned Datron Guardian II - both of which "get all the channels", and would probably be cheaper than the APX's which, at best, are only dual band. UHF should not be left out in the cold just because some schmuck thinks it's "the security guard band". They want interoperability, they need to "be about it", not just talk about it.
the Harris Unity is more expensive than an APX anyday of the week. And good luck getting a demo of one.

The VP900 is about the only affordable dual band portable and comes standard with P25 9600 standard. Phase 2 however, is an upgrade and not included in the "street" MSRP of $2750:

http://www.efjohnsontechnologies.com/resources/dyn/files/1039323z7b17ff16/_fn/VP900.pdf
 
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