Migration away from VHF Low

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w1kne

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Do you guys think we will eventually see a migration away from the heavy VHF low band use? Especially in the Hudson Valley where it is used fairly heavily. (I think of Columbia, Greene, Ulster counties) who have main fire countywide operations on VHF Low Band.

I know that all three counties have VHF Hi Band for the sheriffs, so it would make one assume that VHF Hi Band would also work with the fire departments.
 

GTR8000

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Rockland is still on 46 MHz low band for FD dispatch and response, and started using UHF for fireground ops countywide around 1995. PD and EMS have been on VHF for about 25 or so years now. The last time PD was actively on 37 MHz low band was around 1988.

That will all change next year when the new 700 MHz P25 system goes into operation. FD fireground ops will remain on UHF, FD paging will move from low band to UHF T-Band, and everything else will be on the TRS. Some legacy low band and VHF frequencies will be retained for interoperability. In particular, 46.18 will remain for FD paging (simulcast with UHF) for the foreseeable future, and 154.725 will remain active as the countywide PD repeater. The NYSP cars on the Palisades Parkway rely pretty heavily on that repeater to communicate with the county 911 center. In fact, they often get their calls from the county on that repeater before SP Monroe even knows about it. That, of course, is due to the fact that all cellular 911 calls inside the county's borders are routed directly to the county's 911 center "44-Control".
 

Mtnrider

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Greene Delaware Ulster are in contract with BLUEWING......There selling anything BUT low band....Delaware has been licensed on a UHF freq,Greene i am told is talking UHF Trunking for all services.....Ulster i had a link to laying out the BLUEWING special of the day but i dont know where it went...as i recall it went something like 800 city areas UHFor VHF hill areas....
 

Warthog1

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I think you will see more counties opt for the UHF trunked systems. The new system in the Syracuse area sounds great. Here in Fulton county, they moved from 46 MHz to VHF high band for fire operations a few years ago. The problem on my end of the county is that we are in the Adirondack Park, and you pretty much have to jump thru hoops to get any towers built.
 

eng5

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Seneca, Wayne, Tompkins, Onondaga, and Yates have all abandoned lowband. I've heard Cayuga will be moving to CNYICC, but I still hear them on 46.10. Ontario is still using lowband while building a 700 MHz system, but some of the departments have gone to UHF fireground.
 

SCPD

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Orange County went to a 16 channel UHF FG system last October, which was mandatory this past July.
The only Low Band frequency that was being used is 46.16, Truck to County out of the old 10 Low Band
Frequencies of the Countywide Radio Plan. The FD's were moving over to their own UHF Systems on their own, and no interops between FD's at times.
 

GTR8000

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Orange County went to a 16 channel UHF FG system last October, which was mandatory this past July.
The only Low Band frequency that was being used is 46.16, Truck to County out of the old 10 Low Band
Frequencies of the Countywide Radio Plan. The FD's were moving over to their own UHF Systems on their own, and no interops between FD's at times.
That's not entirely true. The county's UHF radio plan is for fireground operations. Low band frequencies are still used for response and truck to truck communication, not just the 46.16 and 45.78 links to the county. Many depts have chosen to build their own UHF systems, but they are still free to use the low band frequencies. There are quite a number of UHF to low band 46.16 crossband links as well.
 

nozzlenut83

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Columbia is planning a radio system upgrade. There are only rumors at this point. Most are talking UHF conventional. Although this upgrade has been talked about for several years, there are no concrete plans or timelines.

It leaves FD's in a spot when considering spending limited dollars on repairing/replacing old and failing Low Band radios.. Buy Low Band and risk having it be useless in a short time or buy UHF and hope the rumors are true???

A solid plan and timeline would be a good thing.. Now you will see FD's like Hudson and Livingston licensing their own VHF high and UHF freqs and soon you will have a situation like Orange County...
 

Quickcall

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Chenango county fire has moved from VHF-Low to UHF. The VHF-Low 46.38 is still broadcast from the county dispatch but is said to be shut off soon.
 

902

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Do you guys think we will eventually see a migration away from the heavy VHF low band use? Especially in the Hudson Valley where it is used fairly heavily. (I think of Columbia, Greene, Ulster counties) who have main fire countywide operations on VHF Low Band.

I know that all three counties have VHF Hi Band for the sheriffs, so it would make one assume that VHF Hi Band would also work with the fire departments.
There isn't a magic pill for two-way radio.

If low band is still useful (isn't attenuated by building materials or limited by noisy, poorly shielded RF emitters) it has much greater usefulness than VHF high band. High band is a cesspool of stations on top of each other, excessive power and areas of operation, repeater outputs placed on the same freqeuncy as simplex operations and other systems' repeater inputs, and now digital systems possibly interacting with legacy analog systems. Narrowbanding won't make it better. The only systems that make out good on high band are the ones that have been there for decades and are busy enough for others to want to avoid them. Those systems are pretty much locked into whatever they already have. Resources to expand usually are limited, and, if they're north of Line A (as much of NY is), Canada returns a good amount of applications with "harmful interference anticipated" letters.

UHF is being eaten up by exclusive use FB8 (protected from co-channel and adjacent channel by exclusivity trunking) systems. The low power channels are limited to 6 W ERP (enough for handheld simplex), and the license applications I see mostly have areas of operation that greatly exceed their intended service area. Several consultants are pushing UHF trunked (and some are ballsy enough to try it for VHF, as well).

700 MHz isn't a one-size-fits-all. Regions 8, 30, and 55 (the 3 RPCs in NYS) have adopted a Byzantine method of computing engineering studies that is poorly understood (by everyone, including the RPCs). Those don't mesh with Region 19 (New England). Considering the bonanza of frequencies, there are really only a handful available to the various counties thanks to the planning and packing process, and those are usually held in abeyance for counties and not fire districts or municipalities. 800 is another mess between their RPCs and Sprint-Nextel rebanding. Not to mention, only a handful of channels allow analog operation on 700. Response could get away with P25 or some other digital format, but fireground has a long history of... issues.

See? Low band isn't looking so bad, after all. No narrowbanding, equipment could be individually-owned by volunteers (try asking your trunked radio system manager for an ID and their system key - he'd likely laugh you out of the room or have you arrested), and crowding issues have migrated to higher bands. All you have to worry about is where to get base station equipment from (nearly all of the manufacturers have deadlined their low band base stations as a marketing decision), RF noise from leaky microprocessor devices, "skip", materials attenuation, and inefficient portable radio operations. Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other to me.

I also read Peter Sz's post in his FireRad2 list about 1.9 GHz referring back to this thread. Peter - don't you know that the manufacturers, investors, legislators, and indian chiefs who couldn't tell a radio from a toaster-oven want this troublesome LMR stuff to go away? It's worth way more money auctioned off so Verizon and others could push Hulu and MyYearbook. In that 15 years they want everyone to be using subscription, consumer form-factored IP-based devices on LTE networks that won't allow direct unit-to-unit operations off-network (another "oops" that happens when manufacturers' engineers and marketers have no clue about what the people that they intend to use their products really need them for... when was the last time we saw that? Oh, yeah, something to do with digital and ambient noise you'd find when you're really using the stuff). If your department has to choose between paying for diesel fuel to run the trucks or heating oil to make sure tank water doesn't freeze, now you also have to remember to pay your radio bill.
 

SteveC0625

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902's post above deserves a "Like" button.
You bet!

I would add that some areas of the state remain well served by analog VHF High including my own county. I don't see most of the issues he raises with VHF High applying to our area and I expect that to be the case for at least the next decade or two.

However, it would seem that our situation is becoming rarer and rarer.
 

902

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I have the exact breakdowns at work, but public safety has the most allocation of spectrum vs. bandwidth in low band relative to any of the other frequency bands. Yet, in some states the entire series of low band licensees can be printed out on one page!

There's no reason why low band repeaters can't be trunked. I wouldn't do it with SmartNet or P25, but an LTR controller could easily tie into a Daniels base station and Kenwood mobiles can take after-market LTR boards. LTRs been around for decades and has proven itself to be reliable. The hard part would be creating a balanced system where channels can be received at similar signal levels. Duplexing would be very large, and cans (duplexer cavities) would take up most of the room. They'd also be pretty lossy. But a system could be set up for whatever split a mobile could accommodate. If it can work from 33 to 47 MHz, I would set up a 33 MHz DB-201 on top of the tower and 4 46 MHz DB-201s on the sides 2 opposite each other and two right below that. Then I'd put a bandpass cavity and multicoupler in for the receivers and IM suppression panels and bandpass cavities on the transmitters. Same capacity as the basic SmartNet systems from the 90s. And, to make sure it stays working - no portable radios allowed. Pyramid units or PacRTs, only. Voting receivers and a good site, this could cover a several county region for a number of agencies.

(Needless to say, I'm a 6 meter buff and have a Maratrac in the house with a DB-201 antenna and a Syntor X-9000 that I need to put into my current car; we used to use 6 exclusively when we lived in the Midwest and reliably out-talked the range of most of the 2 meter repeaters... without using a repeater. I've got a couple of Wilson crystal freq'd radios, too - also a DEMI transverter for weak signal work.)
 

jim202

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There has been a push by the radio vendors to get their customers to buy new equipment. Companies like Motorola made a real bad decision a number of years ago to drop their low band radio line. Well guess what, they got their buts in a sling and had to go buy part of another off shore radio company to be able to offer a low band radio to those customers that were smart and stayed low band.

Not sure if any of you have had a chance to play with the great PM1200 mobile for low band. You can tell right off that it is an off shore product. Sure it will put out 120 watts. So what. Maybe you have had a chance to use the software. As one of the Motorola tech service guys told me, they had to cob together something that would program the radio.

I am getting off the subject here some. What I was trying to say is that there is a good place for the low band radio systems. There are parts of the country that the low band is the only thing that will fit the bill cost wise to cover the areas that it does.

There are a number of the radio companies that have a low band radio available. So there is no reason to be pushed out of a system that has served you for many years just to see some sales person fatten his commission. You will hear radio sales people lay all sorts of stories on the customers as to why they have to vacate low band operation. If that was me hearing these stories, I would say show me the documents that say I have to move to another band.

I have been on low band for many years. I have seen a number of radio models come and go for the low band. Speaking of old radios on low band, they had all tubes back when I was working on those radios. Bet there are not too many techs still out in the field that can lay claim to doing that. Think most of them are all hanging out here to listen to all the war stories.

Bottom line here is that low band is not dead. But there are a few that are trying to get their customers to believe that. The only reason this keeps coming up is the greed of the sales force trying to make a fast buck. They keep pushing the migration to UHF and the answer all of the 700 band. Maybe one of these days the poor customer will wake up and do some homework before diving into the song and dance they are being fed.

Sure the radio shops and companies need to stay in business. But if I was a customer being fed this, I would start looking for a different radio shop. The truth will win out in the long run, but the poor tax payer is the grunt that has to bear the load for some stupid public official that doesn't know a transistor from a capacitor. They shouldn't have to know the difference, because they rely on what they hope is a good radio service shop. However, if your wined and dined enough, you start to believe the story your being told and never double check the fine details before they sign on the bottom of a contract the radio company wrote instead of the agency looking to purchase the radios.
 

zerg901

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But low band has 2 big oopsies - skip and big antennas. (Check out the Skip Forum here at Radio Ref)
 

Thunderknight

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700 MHz isn't a one-size-fits-all. Regions 8, 30, and 55 (the 3 RPCs in NYS) have adopted a Byzantine method of computing engineering studies that is poorly understood (by everyone, including the RPCs). Those don't mesh with Region 19 (New England). Considering the bonanza of frequencies, there are really only a handful available to the various counties thanks to the planning and packing process, and those are usually held in abeyance for counties and not fire districts or municipalities.
In the 3 rpc plans you mention, those 700 general use channels are packed on a county basis in terms of geography, but are available to eligible entities below the county level.

In that 15 years they want everyone to be using subscription, consumer form-factored IP-based devices on LTE networks that won't allow direct unit-to-unit operations off-network (another "oops" that happens when manufacturers' engineers and marketers have no clue about what the people that they intend to use
I think most in the field who are working on the public safety broadband planning expect that the devices will be public safety hardened (while they may have the guts of a consumer device, the form will be different) and direct mode is being worked on.
One idea is a lte device and a p25 radio in one.
 

jim202

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But low band has 2 big oopsies - skip and big antennas. (Check out the Skip Forum here at Radio Ref)

Why do you call them oopsies?

Guess you have never priced out a radio system for coverage. It takes towers much closer at the higher bands. That means more towers for the same coverage area over what low band was providing. More towers means more up front costs, more maintenance costs, more backbone costs to link the sites together. You get more computer generated noise at the higher frequencies. Maybe you haven't looked at the size of a gain antenna used at these tower sites on VHF and UHF. The gain antennas for the 800 band are no different. They are much larger than those used on low band.

As to the skip. Well you get skip at the higher bands also. Having spent 18 years building cell sites and doing the engineering that goes with them, low band is much simpler. Plus you get more frequent skip at the 800 band than most people think. When it happens, it takes down the 800 systems. The trunking systems can't tolerate skip coming into the control channel receivers. It actually takes the sites off line that are having the problems, depending on how strong the signals are. At least on low band you can work with the problems.
 

w1kne

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For the record, I never said it was dead. I was asking more along the lines if there would ever be a migration from Low Band to High Band/UHF/700/800/holographic/etc , in particular in Greene and Columbia counties, and that was answered. :)
 

Mtnrider

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I cant wait till they consume most of the money adding more towers....here in greene county. Most county's around here have been going outside there county to improve there services. Albany county for one has found a old tower in East Windham and made use of it. Delaware County has moved a Low band base to Ulster county (Belleayre mtn) with a uhf link from stamford. Here in Greene we have enough cell towers to share space with but at what cost..than theres the backbone issue....we will see how it plays out. We have enough highband already it they do it right.....IMHO would work best around here

"it takes towers much closer at the higher bands. That means more towers for the same coverage area over what low band was providing. More towers means more up front costs, more maintenance costs, more backbone costs to link the sites together.'
 
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