No to 800mhz in Hubbard County

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brey1234

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Enter Ron Vegemast, widely viewed as the “Father of ARMER,” the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response. That’s the 800 megahertz system used in the metro area that 65 Minnesota counties have now committed to.
Vegemast, at the invitation of Hubbard County Sheriff Frank Homer, spoke to the user group last Thursday night, urging them not to undertake the high expense of the system he helped design and build in 1989.
http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com/event/article/id/21744/
 

vf792

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Funny, when he was the paid consultant, 800MHz was the best thing since sliced bread. Now that he is getting passed over for consultant contracts, he speaks out against it.
 

GooddayM8

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He's retired, not looking for contracts. Maybe the 800 MHz radios (cell phones) will work in the cities, but in rural Minnesota, we have things called dead spots. I certainly want my medic able to call for help if needed.
 

radionut13

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Why discredit Ron? If he is the father of the armer system, maybe he realized as any engineer worth anything would know....800 MHz doesn't propagate as well as 150Mhz system. In the cities I understand they ran out of the VHF channels. The rest of MN, VHF is a better choice. Armer is just a sell job to lock counties into a state contract like cell phones. Free phone with 2 year activation (some restrictions apply). Oh, added fees? Well your going to pay.
 

stmills

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When the Metro 800 Mhz project started - in the early 90's, vhf and uhf channels were maxed out providing the need for 800. It worked well in the Metro so the concept went state wide, but 800mHz is not always the best choice for propagation as has been noted by many in the two way industry. I would love to see the State continue with the concept of a state wide network but why not build outstate towers on a vhf platform that would allow for better propagation with fewer towers in areas that will have lower volume of traffic. There doesn't seem to be any reason a vhf p25 tower could not be put in place of an 800 tower other than that was not in the original plans. The resources are already owned to bring portable 800 systems to ares without 800 should a major disaster happen so it would be possible to deploy 800 capable teams to a vhf ARMER area and have the needed interop.
 

radionut13

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I agree with everything you said. I couldn't agree more. Except one point. You would not need to use as many towers with a VHF system as you would with 800. A state run VHF system would require about half as many towers saving the counties and state MILLIONS!! So who do we need to talk too to save the state this money? It the states pride worth this? I don't want higher taxes because of stubborness!
 

stmills

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It would also make for easier transition for counties already on vhf, who could replace current field mobiles as they need replacement with vhf radios capable of p25 trunking when the system went live, and citys with public works on vhf simplex would be able to keep that and public safety would still be able to talk with public works on one radio as they can today.
 
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N_Jay

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You are not considering many of the drawbacks that can make a VHF system as expensive (or more expensive) than a 700/800 MHz system.

1) It is hard to get clear VHF channels for trunking.
2) It is even harder once you consider channel spacing and T to R separation issues.
3) You may have to buy the channels at an indeterminate cost.
4) you need to displace your existing VHF user base during transition, making the transition more difficult, not easier (as implied)
5) With significant in-building coverage requirements you may need just as many sites on VHF as 700/800 MHz
6) VHF has much greater susceptibility to noise and interference, so coverage is more likely to fall short of predictions.
7) Site separation in Simulcast is not frequency dependant, so there is little chance for any site savings in a simulcast system at VHF.
8) While VHF in general does propagate further, it also interferes and is interfered with at much greater distances, leading to the need to resolve interference issues that were not anticipated.
9) VHF antenna gains are lower for any given size and cost.
10 VHF Antenna combining systems are more complex, much more expensive, and require a significantly greater amount of physical space, adding to site costs.
 

GooddayM8

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1. Define hard. It is also hard to get all the 700/800 channels that counties will need to make ARMER reality.
2. Define harder. Better to pay a responsible consultant to design a frequency plan than to pay a dirty one to fabricate ARMER benefits.
3. The FCC has actually determined the cost for channels. Federal Communications Commission Current Application Processing Fees
4. No you wouldn't.
5. While 700/800 does have better building penetration, almost none of the state towers are in cities.
6. VHF skip. Can you say 700/800 ducting? Which is a much worse form of interference.
7. No savings in the system, but a thousand walkie talkies aren't free. Besides, not all of ARMER is going to be simulcast.
8. I think a smart engineer (not to mention the FCC rule makers) could anticipate interference issues ahead of time.
9. My guess is that antennas are not the most expensive part of the ARMER system. Maybe armadillo hats could help the officers with 700/800 radios.
10. If your definition of "much" is 10% I would agree. My guess is that antenna combining systems are not the most expensive part of the ARMER system. Maybe armadillo hats could be used for combining.
11. Assume humorous.
 

N0YFE

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I think the biggest problem we have been seeing with 800 / 700 P25 systems and problems reported is the issue of building a system that was designed by the manufacturer and not reviewed by some one else or had service level contracts in place to make sure the system does what the buyer wants it to do.

Was it built for mobile or portable on belt coverage, built for indoor our outdoor coverage, etc. Depending on those needs the number of towers and spacing will need to be figured in. In the case of Ron, he is a hired consultant and I can't be sure but he may have been working with them and said I can built this for x cost and the ARMER system will cost Y. It would only make sense that it's in his best interest to defend his contract.

Though as N Jay said, you can use these selling points but once everything is figured out along with the ability to have mutual aid channels, built in backup coverage, etc the ARMER system may be the best way to go.

Personally one of the best selling points is the redundancy of the ARMER system and that's pretty expensive to built into a standalone system for one county. One example would be if the city system failed, you may loose indoor coverage but you will be able to use the county system and still have service.
 
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N_Jay

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1. Define hard. It is also hard to get all the 700/800 channels that counties will need to make ARMER reality.
Define hard? MUCH harder! Verging on impossible in some areas.
If you had any experience in frequency acquisition, you would not make such a comment.
2. Define harder. Better to pay a responsible consultant to design a frequency plan than to pay a dirty one to fabricate ARMER benefits.
There is no established T/R separation. When you acquire your channels you will have to develop a T/R spacing plan and hope you are not forced into multiple T or R windows to make it work. Existing systems, especially simplex will further complicate the plan.
You are going to need a good consultant, and excellent vendor, and a willingness to adjust your plans and desires as the process moves along.
3. The FCC has actually determined the cost for channels. Federal Communications Commission Current Application Processing Fees
If you think you can acquire enough VHF frequencies to build a decent sized trunked system just for the filing fees, I will put in an order for them right now and pay you three times the filing fees (you pay tehg “other” costs. (Again, you obviously have not been involved in this process.)
4. No you wouldn't.
So now you are ASSUMING you can get all the channels you need without using any of the existing channels so they can stay on the air,
AND
None of the existing channels cause any interference either due to T/R separation or IM products to any of the new frequencies? (What are you smoking?)
5. While 700/800 does have better building penetration, almost none of the state towers are in cities.
As I said, either way you will need to add sites to meet expectations for in-building coverage. (Building are not just in cities)
6. VHF skip. Can you say 700/800 ducting? Which is a much worse form of interference.
I said nothing about skip. I am talking about noise from everything from distant systems to industrial equipment and computers. (Distant systems can interfere by direct propagation even when the signal is well below normal usable levels.)
7. No savings in the system, but a thousand walkie talkies aren't free. Besides, not all of ARMER is going to be simulcast.
How much of the VHF equipment out there is really P25 trunking capable? You are going to be replacing a significant amount either way. (If this was my only point, I would give you 1/2 a pass) ;)
8. I think a smart engineer (not to mention the FCC rule makers) could anticipate interference issues ahead of time.
It is not a matter of just predicting it. The interference greatly reduces the opportunity to reuse frequencies or to use trunking on a frequency that is shared, even at a considerable distance.
9. My guess is that antennas are not the most expensive part of the ARMER system. Maybe armadillo hats could help the officers with 700/800 radios.
You missed the point. Much of the propagation difference is a non-issue once you figure in the usable antenna gain differences.
10. If your definition of "much" is 10% I would agree. My guess is that antenna combining systems are not the most expensive part of the ARMER system. Maybe armadillo hats could be used for combining.
Again, this is not my only point. The issue is the cost can run into many tens or even hundreds of thousands per site. Now throw in a few building expansions where the “new” combining system simply does not fit, and it is a very significant cost.
11. Assume humorous.
I did, because there is no way to take your post seriously.
 

GooddayM8

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How do you get my responses inside your responses? No matter, here you go:
1. Much harder is not a definition of hard. You can't use a word to define itself. Verging on impossible is better but still you are just making random assumptions about available VHF frequencies. I happen to know that there are VHF frequencies available for rural MN and with some planning and cooperation could be made to work.
2. I like that you have established the fact that ARMER has not a good consultant, excellent vendor, nor a willingness to change their plans.
3. You can't "order" frequencies from me like you are getting a Sausage McMuffin with Egg at the drive-through. The frequencies are owned by the people and the FCC is charged with regulating their use. Granted the recent spectrum auctions would suggest different, but just passing a law can't change the fact.
4. I was simply saying that you were oversimplifying the problem to support your conclusion. I'm smoking a fat Cuban cigar right now.
5. But you have a majority of your buildings in the cities. I'm talking rural MN here.
6. The VHF noise floor you speak of is easily overcome with a stronger VHF signal. Since it propagates better than 700/800, the loss in sensitivity is more than made up for. This is by many factors, not just some threshold amount. We're talking thousands of times here.
7. Only P25 VHF equipment is capable of trunking, but I'm sure you know that. The nice thing would be that existing VHF equipment (P25 or not) wouldn't become expensive paperweights.
8. Luckily the sites are further apart with VHF.
9. You can't increase the gain forever. You still have to worry about the radiation pattern.
10. You're exaggerating and we both know it.
11. Touche, that was the only point I didn't think you would have an answer for.

I have to admit I like your style. It's too bad that when you give ARMER your heart, it takes your soul...to paraphrase Dylan.
 
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N_Jay

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1) You don't know how much harder (or if impossible) until you develop the site list and frequency requirements and begin searching for appropriate frequencies.
My estimation is based on having been through the process more then once.

2) No, I trust they have most, if not all of that. For even with all that the chance of "success" is limited, and the very definition of "success" is in jeopardy. Why would a good consultant, vendor and customer spend limited resources going down the path most likely to fail?

3) I don't understand the point you are trying to make. I am coming to the conclusion, you don't either.

4) See #3

5) Explain that to the officer going into a situation in a rural building.

6) Your math is bad. See #3

7) You seem to be trying to make my point, yet, even there you fail. There is other trunking (not much) at VHF. There are also conventional only P25 radios.

8) Not far enough. Additionally, antennas do not provide as well controlled patterns.

9) Yes, and BOTH are better with 700 and 800 MHz.

10) We don't know until the frequencies are selected and acquired. I am only using real world examples from my experience. You are assuming a near perfect world, and from what I can tell with near zero experience in the field.

11) Too bad you have made up your mind with apparently no facts. Not a good trait for an engineer.
You might want to consider another profession.
 

radioman2001

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Getting VHF frequencies may be a pain, but getting 800 mhz is no bargain either. You can spend the money on frequencies or on equipment to make up the difference in coverage. I don't know how bad it is to get VHF in Minn. but the STATE OF WYOMING (look at WQJA236 - STATE OF WYOMING) got the entire VHF former mobile telephone block. Free and clear, with just a filing with the FCC. In fact I just looked up some of those very channels in Minn and they are vacant except for one user. In further fact in the dozen or so states I checked those frequencies, only 2 had actual licensed users on them, in very small coverage areas. Now whether they are actually being used I can't say. Here in the NYC area, which is the most congested radio frequency area on the U.S. I can have the entire IMTS block, and or parts of the old RCC, that's 22 to 24 channels for 1 millon dollars. Probably a lot less, they have been on the market for nearly 10 years. That's cheap by any standard, they are service area channels not site specific, you can save right there a ton of money not having to co-ordinate each site. For frequency reuse, we now do it with less that 10 miles separation, and without any directional antenna's. Since the controllers of today's trunking systems are frequency neutral, there is no reason why the rural areas can't be VHF and the cities 800/700. It is a good method of build out without service disruption. Even after the VHF system is built the state can continue to build out into the rural area with 800. There is no reason why a radio from a major city has to work clear across the state. I also don't see anytime in the near future any Police departments removing their inter-agency VHF radios from use.
 
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N_Jay

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The Part 22 Frequencies are a good start, as are federal government sharing agreements.
Without them, I would have said it was impossible, but with them it is still very hard.

Look at WY, it is principally a mobile only system coverage wise. As is the VHF portion of VA Stars.

If you give up on in building coverage for rural users, you 'start' tilting towards VHF, but the expectation today is for in-building portable coverage just about everywhere.
 

radioman2001

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You have to look at the type of buildings in rural vs urban areas. For the most part rural is 1 to 2 story wooden frame homes and barns, there are at most 5 to 6 story commercial buildings that vary from concrete to metal, VHF does work in these cases. Cities have mostly concrete and steel, and 800 would work better there. Good RF design and transmitter/receiver placement is the key here. Maybe VHF isn't the total answer but it sure makes migration of a system a lot easier. The State of Wyoming is doing it right, expanding an existing working system, that's already in place. Those channels in most parts of the country are abandoned, and I see Wyoming as a precedent for other agencies to get those channels. I agree that Public Safety should have access to Government channels that are not being used. Their new effort now seems to be a nationwide 380mhz trunking system.
 
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N_Jay

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You have to look at the type of buildings in rural vs urban areas. For the most part rural is 1 to 2 story wooden frame homes and barns, there are at most 5 to 6 story commercial buildings that vary from concrete to metal, VHF does work in these cases.
Only if you have sufficient margin above "on-street coverage. The same applies at 700 and 800 MHz. VHF gives you almost no advantage in these situations.

Cities have mostly concrete and steel, and 800 would work better there.
Yep, in general.

Good RF design and transmitter/receiver placement is the key here.
That is almost the entire issue,and it is a much easier task to accomplish at 700/800 MHz than it is at VHF when you take ALL THE ISSUES into account.

Maybe VHF isn't the total answer but it sure makes migration of a system a lot easier.
How so?

The State of Wyoming is doing it right, expanding an existing working system, that's already in place.
What existing system was that?
Note that WY is principally a mobile only system. You may also want to read up on some of the frequency acquisition and licensing issues if you are going to tout it is a poster child.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the WY system. It fills the needs it was designed for very well. I just find most users today have higher expectations than when it was developed.

Those channels in most parts of the country are abandoned, and I see Wyoming as a precedent for other agencies to get those channels.
The Fed channels are not as abandoned in many places as you imply.
WY has the 'luxury' of being a very low desity system.

I agree that Public Safety should have access to Government channels that are not being used. Their new effort now seems to be a nationwide 380 mhz trunking system.
Nope, IWN (or what they keep trying to build as IWN) is VHF.
Mostly military base systems have moved to 380.
 

guitarbrian30

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old school radios

maybe they(MN radio users) should use tin cans and string. Cause really is all they can afford right now. Or what about CB radio's?

Just kidding guys.

You can just jump acoss the state line and use SD trunk radio system. Maybe we should just share it some of the towers that are along the state line and patch it into the rest of the system ARMER. We could call it the North plains radio network. Or Buffalo Ridge Regional Network. I can still pick up sioux falls and madison towers over in Luverne MN.
 

radionut13

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Totally agree with you. You could patch North Dakota and Wisconsin too. It would be probably the most sane idea I have heard so far. It would save money for sure. Does anyone have any idea how to be able to do this? I mean who to talk too to make this happen? From what I have read the Northwest is going DVHF. Maybe North Dakota would like this idea.
 
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