• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

    We've noticed a huge increase in rants and negative posts that revolve around agencies going to encryption due to the broadcasting of scanner audio on the internet. It's now worn out and continues to be the same recycled rants. These rants hijack the threads and derail the conversation. They no longer have a place anywhere on this forum other than in the designated threads in the Rants forum in the Tavern.

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Paranoid Texas

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anyone notice how Texas is starting to lead the pack in paranoid radio network deployment?

by that i mean cities like Wichita Falls, El Paso, Laredo, San Antonio, Corpus, etc.

everyone clamoring for an obfuscated, encrypted radio system.

maybe it's something in the water?
 

bpckty1

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I've noticed that the encrypted EDACS ProVoice systems tend to appear in cities that have large military bases in the area. Is there a connection????????????????
 

VintageJon

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Muddy,
It could be the water. Have noticed that the water down there smells like the bottom of a fish tank...

Last time I was down there, last week, I barely got squat on the 96 or the 91 despite careful programming prep for the trip!
SAIA and American Airlines were clearly receiveable, but little from Public Saftey. Every Pro-Voice freq I had in that bank was encryted-nonsense.

Was just operating off 800 MHz ducky and original ducky when listening. Will take the indoor-1/4-wave-ground planes down there when the chance comes.

They do appear to be scared down in S.A. and I'm sorry to see it...

Be Safe, Be Well, My Friend-
Jon
 
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in looking back across the years, the only REAL difference in radio communications in our state has been the sudden influx of grant money post 9/11.

the technology existed to do blanket encryption on a trunked system back in the early 1990's, it was just a bit clunky. but a surprising influx of $$$ would have alleviated that situation.

also, some will point out that i didn't mention Houston or Dallas.

i believe Dallas is a crazy-quilt of cities which can pretty much do whatever they want, whereas Houston is a gigantic urban mess that tries to hobble along with an older UHF system and about 1000 trunked radio systems for business.

the idea about proxmity to military bases is interesting. as well as the idea that Border Cities have some kind of "special need" for encrypted radio communications.

the only iconoclast in this whole mess is Austin. they had the funding and the technology to get with the times and chose a P25 system with selective TG encryption. not only does the system WORK, and remain INTEROPERABLE, but it shows that you can retain functionality and privacy without blowing everyone out of the water.

when the Toyota 400Mhz ProVoice system came up last week, i wasn't all that surprised. business users can pretty much set up what they want, having the money and incentive to keep their operations private. but it definitely reinforces lou's idea that MA/COM has a sales force that is dominating the landscape today.

i am infintely thankful, though, that the State DPS VHF radio system didn't undergo some kind of ridiculous secretive conversion like the State of Florida. or run to 700Mhz like the State of Louisiana.

it's amazing what happens when you throw gobs of federal money at state and local governments.
 

hiegtx

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muddy mudskipper said:
also, some will point out that i didn't mention Houston or Dallas.

i believe Dallas is a crazy-quilt of cities which can pretty much do whatever they want, whereas Houston is a gigantic urban mess that tries to hobble along with an older UHF system and about 1000 trunked radio systems for business.

the idea about proxmity to military bases is interesting. as well as the idea that Border Cities have some kind of "special need" for encrypted radio communications.
..............
Muddy,
You hit the target squarely in describing the Dallas area as a crazy quilt of cities.

Dallas, maybe 8-10 years back, was leaning toward a trunked system. PD was on Uhf, FD was Vhf-high. Various city services were on either Vhf or Uhf. They had a set of 800mhz trs frequencies allocated, but reports from other cities of cost overruns, systems that did not perform, dead spots with no coverage (Dallas is pretty spread out, with some difficult radio areas due to terrain), multiple issues, changed their minds. They traded the rights to the frequency allocation in return for new Uhf radios: repeaters, vehicle radios, handhelds, consoles. Part of the deal was that the fire department moved from Vhf to Uhf, and Fire/Rescue units gained the capability to talk to PD units on Dallas PD Ch 7 (Traffic) for coordination at accident scenes. This change of signals ticked off DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) which had put in a Type II Moto System for their light rail system in the expectation it would be compatible with the city's. They had also taken options on in-tunnel repeaters for the subway tunnel under North Central Expwy. DART was not happy about being left at the altar.

Dallas does have a Moto Typpe II hybrid for city services, with some PD groups, along with allowing another suburb, ****rell Hill, some talk groups. The radios acquired in the horse trade mentioned above are aging, and are beginning to need replacement. The question, yet unanwered (or at least not announced) is does the city replace those radios? The curreny system still works well, with good area coverage. Or is the move made to a TRS in the interest of interoperabily?

In the rest of the area.....
The only Provoice system in the DFW area, so far, is DFW Airport. EDACS is not widely used either. The two largest cites with straight (non-Provoice) EDACS are Irving, which abutts DFW Airport on the east, and Richardson. All of the other trunked public safety systems for the larger surburbs are Motorolas. Some of the smaller outlying cities or county systems use LTR, with Decatur in Wise County on MPT-1327. As you say, a crazy quilt. While we don't have the concentration of military faciilites of San Antonio , Fort Worth does have the NAS-JRB Carswell, along with the Lockheed plant.

when the Toyota 400Mhz ProVoice system came up last week, i wasn't all that surprised. business users can pretty much set up what they want, having the money and incentive to keep their operations private. but it definitely reinforces lou's idea that MA/COM has a sales force that is dominating the landscape today..
With all the crazy drivers, roads that are under construction, and road signs that have been knocked down in wrecks, but not repaired, maybe the MA/COM salesmen got lost here in DFW.

i am infintely thankful, though, that the State DPS VHF radio system didn't undergo some kind of ridiculous secretive conversion like the State of Florida. or run to 700Mhz like the State of Louisiana.
t's amazing what happens when you throw gobs of federal money at state and local governments.
Agreed. Politicians seem to think money (our's) solves everything. The more they throw at the perceived issue, the more their name gets in the news. Doesn't matter if the problem is solved, just get noticed, especially in an election year. The end result is a number of systems which cannot communicate with anyone not on the same system, with limited reliabiliby and, at times, marginal signal coverage. But, those evil terrorists can't listen to it. Unfortunately, often neither can those whose lives depend on it.
 

loumaag

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Well, in defense of the 700 MHz LATIE system growing in Louisiana, I have to tell you it works pretty well. One of the real advantages of it is there isn't any interference from Nextel (or much of anything else for that matter). Of course at this stage it is just being rolled out, but the technology is the same as any other Project 25 system and we (scanner heads) already have the radios for monitoring it so, that beats the hell out of ProVoice or worse yet, ProVoice w/ESK.
 

nd5y

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hiegtx said:
Muddy,
They traded the rights to the frequency allocation in return for new Uhf radios: repeaters,
Huh?
The old FD EDACS frequencies are part now of the current 800 MHz trunked system.
 

hiegtx

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Tom.
The article in the paper discussing all this has long since been tossed. However, there was a rights swap involved where Dallas (city) recieved money from one of the PCS companies in exchange for that firm funding radio equipment that led to DFD (now renamed Dallas Fire Rescue) moving from Vhf-high to the current Uhf system. The exact details are too far removed for detailed recall, but Dallas had rights to frequency allocations that said PCS firm wanted. In exchange for relinquishing the rights to the allocation, Dallas gained the funds used for the conversion of the DFD system. If I recall, some replacement of other equipment may have also been involved.

It's entirely possible that the frequencies involved were not directly licensed to the city, but the city had, for lack of a better term, 'first right of refusal' on getting them. In any event, the city sold, assigned, choose your own term, it's rights, to a PCS firm for the allocation in exchange for montary and equipment purchase compensation.
 

nd5y

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The frequency swap was for the city microwave licenses. Fort Worth did the same thing. I remember reading an article about it in the Startle-a-Gram. The cluless reporter made it look like the police radios and cell phones would swap frequencies.
 

hiegtx

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You could be right.
As I said, the details are too far removed, based on a news article that may not have been too accurate either (big surprise there, right?). What I was referring to was in the Dallas Snooze & on Ch 8. The Startle-Gram is not available in my area of town except on the web. I do check their online version from time to time.
 
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i'd like to add my observations of some of the other Texas cities i've visited and how they have evolved:

El Paso - i was there about 2 years ago on a road trip back from Las Vegas and was utterly shocked at how well the Public Safety radio system worked. still, i felt it was only a matter of time before they upgraded more toward the secretive, considering Ft. Bliss and White Sands was already doing UHF Smartzone with selective crypto and Ciudad Juarez probably generated enough unintentional (intentional?) RF interference that SOMETHING had to be done. i watch with dismay as they slowly build-out their new ProVoice + ESK system.

San Marcos + New Braunfels - now this i like. these small townships basically waited for the bigger guy to lay out the network and then buy rights to use it. in this case, LCRA laid out the network and the coverage seems quite amazing. i was at a triathlon near San Marcos some years back and noted that for special events the SMPD and the county guys were using a reserved talkgroup as well as some volunteers using a VHF frequency (i think it was Hill Country Village or something like that). system seems very straightforward and easy to use, despite the voice compandering option leading to "whispery" sound for those trying to monitor the system with consumer scanners.

McAllen/the Valley - this is another example of what resembles madness when it comes to radio communications for public safety. at one point, the Cameron County SO was on an LTR system, with McAllen PD and some of the smaller towns near McAllen being on a Mot Type II system (if memory serves me right). there also seems to be the typical legacy VHF/UHF communications that hold on so tightly in the south Texas coastal regions. my shock is that i haven't heard much about Valley agencies jumping to a new secure network, but this could be a waiting game to buy use on the AEP EDACS system that is so pervasive from the Brush Country down to the Coast. don't know much more about this area except it seems overdue for a radio overhaul. so many disparate radio networks down there.

San Antonio - the newish ProVoice + ESK radio system isn't without its growing pains. a sort of "muted dissent" exists among most of the users, typically Police Officers who don't care for the way the new radios sound or operate. as well as how the new MDT equipment "tracks" them with a GPS dome in their cruisers. couple this with the initial fiasco the SAFD experienced at structure fires with their horrible headsets and you can understand why there was an initial backlash. still, the system reflects a coordinated attempt at bridging many city and county agencies under a reasonable budget. yes i know scannists hate it because it is unmonitorable, but given enough time the system will become monitorable. the key here is whether it works for the USERS. and despite my general loathing of this push toward secrecy in radio communications, i'd have to say it's doing the job for the Police and Fire Departments. sadly, all the money they spent still leaves surrounding VFD's and municipal PD's and extra-county agencies in the dust. as well as any coordination with the State Troopers, which must purchase the radios if they patrol/work in the related Zone. bottom line: the San Antonio system is meets interoperability if you have the cash to buy the new equipment.

anyway, Texas is a big state and in my opinion, there will be diversity in radio communications for some time to come. i don't think we're in the dreaded future that so many European hobbyists predicted years ago - where only the fire department comms were unencrypted and monitorable by the public.

but we are certainly picking up the pace.
 

bpckty1

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"also, some will point out that i didn't mention Houston or Dallas"

Other than NASA, no big military facilities, so no need for the ESK systems.

Plus, politics. Houston will eventually go on-line with Starnet, but, since they upgraded their radio system just as Starnet was starting, the city stayed with their UHF systems for PD and Fire/EMS. The city services, and some special PD/FD, were on the CoH TRS, but since the monies had already been spent, they apparently decided to wait out the amortization of the UHF systems, and observe how Starnet was working.

So, I suspect that they will go with Starnet in a couple of years for PD. The jury is still out for the FD, system (as clunky as it is) from what I've seen. Please note that recently, several VFDs (West I-10 VFD, WHCEMS, Westlake VFD/EMS, and soon, Community VFD/EMS, for example) that were on Starnet have returned to the more reliable UHF/VHF conventional systems that don't have "busy signals" at the worst possible times.

As for the funds available after 9/11, one has to remember the attitude of HPD (sorry if I offend anyone) that it does not want federal funds, unless necessary. This is an attitude left over from former Chief Herman Short, who did not like the federal meddling, which would come from accepting federal monies. We see what happened. Other PDs that took the funds advanced while HPD stagnated, and has been playing catch up ever since. Hopefully, the new blood in the department will overcome the culture shock and come up to speed with their communications.

HPD was a leader and used advanced technology (for the time) for computer dispatching, MDT use, and computerized report filing, event checking, record archives, etc., which was even better than Harris County in this regard for several years, and then took a giant step backwards when the new, untested, Houston Emergency Center with its unproven software went on line a couple of years ago.

Please, this is in no way a rant or a dig at HPD, so no flames please. Just a bit of local lore for reference.

But, don't worry. Houston may not have ESK/ProVoice systems, but there is Digital Testing on Starnet, so I'm sure we will soon have digital encryption to play with.

;^p

Happy Scanning
 

mikepro96fan

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Austin is APCO 25, only the CIB talkgroups are sometimes encrypted..I'm sure it would be very easy for them to encrypt all of the system, I sure hope they never do!!!
 

rattlerbb01

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I think that the reason Houston and Dallas PDs do so well on legacy UHF is that they have their MDTs that they can do almost anything they need, so radio traffic is minimal from street units as it can be. They don't need all the tac channels. plus, they are so short officers they don't have time to chat with each other, only answer calls that are backed up on their MDTs.
 

mike_webb59

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I think the reason we have such "paranoia" is that we have sophisticated criminals that have access to enough equipment to eavesdrop on the police to see if they're eavesdropping on them. How many times have you seen on the TV where a drug bust included scanners.

And since they're criminals and an "illegal scanning" charge would be useless and dropped in the plea bargain.......

If I were brainstorming the overall issue, I could see where the (legal and interested) scanning community isn't perceived as a "value add" to the public safety community. Nor to the vendors/suppliers. And I think this could be changed.
 

ke4ppj

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i may have missed something but i've never seen on TV where the criminals are using scanners? and i work in TV!!!
 
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mike_webb59 said:
I think the reason we have such "paranoia" is that we have sophisticated criminals that have access to enough equipment to eavesdrop on the police to see if they're eavesdropping on them. How many times have you seen on the TV where a drug bust included scanners.
several times on COPS, and they were all small-time dealers.

you also have to remember that there is no post-analysis of the evidence found at the scene, and whether these scanners were even PROPERLY programmed. most of us hobbyists know how hard it is to accurately program a legitimate trunked system into a Uniden 396 or RS Pro-96. now imagine the level of complexity for someone who only does it when they are paranoid enough to fear the law. i'd say that's a recipe for disaster.

addedly, if i really wanted to avoid the police or the feds and i was running a big drug relay somewhere, i'd invest in some pit bulls, lighting, electronic countermeasures, IDS, and a home on expansive acreage, as well as increase my bribery budget for the local politicos. i'd also work up a local network of snitches (just like the PD do) to act as an early warning system. i would NEVER rely on scanners or improperly programmed radios when HUMINT is a helluva lot more reliable.

my point here is that the criminals with the scanners are a flash-in-the-pan. they will all get caught.

besides, think about it. if they were so "sophisticated", why are they ending up on Crime TV getting busted?
 

mike_webb59

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Sure. Even though they can build tunnels, pilot aircraft and water craft, modify tractor-trailers with false floors, cargo holds, and drivetrain components (at a cost of about $100K per), develop an infrastructure, manage a multibillion-dollar international industry, and have a nearly unlimited cash budget and access to just about anything legally *and* illegally, they don't use scanners. As hard as they are to program, why would they.

I guess that most law enforcement and public safety agencies aren't really concerned about these dumb criminals because there are so few criminals and crimes related to drug abuse.

But these are just opinions. Here's the real question:

How do the users of radio systems, as an industry, view the legal and interested scanning community? Why is that? You (we) want to scan? We need to change our image, our perceived value.

Does anyone agee?
 

hiegtx

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mike_webb59 said:
........
I guess that most law enforcement and public safety agencies aren't really concerned about these dumb criminals because there are so few criminals and crimes related to drug abuse.

But these are just opinions. Here's the real question:

How do the users of radio systems, as an industry, view the legal and interested scanning community? Why is that? You (we) want to scan? We need to change our image, our perceived value.

Does anyone agee?
Good point, Mike.
In the larger cities, especially those that want to encrypt everything down to the dog catcher & street sweepers, we (scanner listeners) rank probably only slightly above the bona fide criminal element in the minds of city officials.

Once you get outside the metro areas, to the more rural parts of the state, I strongly suspect the opinion changes as much as the countryside. That sheriff in west Texas, who has only a couple of deputies on duty to try & cover a county bigger than some of the smaller states will take any help he (or she) can get from extra pairs of eyes. If that means somebody listening on a scanner hears a report about a possible suspect vehicle, then sees it near their property and makes the call, it makes the sheriff's job a little easier, and sometimes safer. I've occasionally heard certain rural S.O.'s dispatch calls, relating the source of the call to a scanner listener. That's something you never hear in the city; at least not in Dallas.
 
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