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Question- public safety

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W8RMH

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I admit there has been an increase in encryption. I believe most agencies are honest and open with their citizens (who are paying for their new radio systems).

Many agencies encourage listing to their communications. Currently their are around 50 official feeds here on RadioReference. When Cincinnati went digital they specifically did not encrypt their dispatch channels.

I believe that the increase in encryption, which is very expensive by the way, is the result of sales tactics, preying off their customer's paranoia, and giving the impression that these new systems are required to be narrow band compliant, when actually encryption can be detrimental to inter-agency communications.

I think most small agencies could get by with a few conventional channels instead of these multi-million dollar communication systems which are being sold by the tens-of-thousands.
This is a very lucrative business and the FCC's mandates, good or bad, have given the radio companies an edge.

Personally I don't think we will ever see widespread use of encryption. Scramblers have been around for over 40 years and never saw much use at all.

The future may make it obsolete anyway with constantly evolving technology and new systems which can't be monitored, such as MotoTRBO, NXDGE, etc.
 
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Jay911

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There are plenty of agencies - especially fire departments - who don't care if you listen or not.

To them (myself included as I'm the communications officer for one such agency), encryption is an unnecessary expense. I will only include encryption in my radios if there is no other way to communicate with my partner agencies - and even then, my regular comms channels would remain in the clear. We don't have anything to hide.
 

N0WEF

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I would have to say, I whole-heartedly agree with what W8RMH had to say. In fact, I'm a little jealous I couldn't say it better myself.

A lot of agencies had actually posted their frequencies on their website. (Like this: DCSO Local Scanner Frequencies )
 

greenthumb

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If (and that's a big if) LTE ever becomes prominent in public safety two-way voice communications (especially in urban areas), I think that the days of freely monitoring those communications over the air will be gone. Encryption will probably take place at a lower layer in the stack, thus even though the voice communications itself may not be encrypted, the information transmitted over the air will very likely be encrypted. In rural areas, LTE may not be a great solution, so more traditional two-way technologies will likely be around for a long, long time.

We're all speculating here and looking into the crystal ball from each of our own perspective, so opinions and mileage will vary :) As far as the hobby aspect goes, I wouldn't make any purchasing decisions, as far as to buy a scanner or not, based on this conversation.
 

N0WEF

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I wouldn't make any purchasing decisions, as far as to buy a scanner or not, based on this conversation.
That's a levelheaded approach we all need to remember during these discussions. A lot of people who are thinking about getting into this hobby get "scared" away when they see threads like this.

There's two things that amaze me as I travel around the country.

1.) When in major metropolitan areas, I end up hearing groups that I think should be encrypted. (Drug Task Forces, Gang Units, Surveillance units)

2.) When in extremely rural areas, I end up finding entire Depts. using encryption.

It's never ceased to amaze me.

My way of thinking, why spend the extra money on encryption when they have Nextels, Chat, personal cells, and so on...
 
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mmckenna

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It's need vs. cost.

A lot of police departments have a need to be encrypted. Older analog radios made it difficult to do. With more and more departments upgrading to newer radios and digital systems, enabling encryption suddenly becomes as easy as a check box while programming the system. So, as equipment gets replaced be it because of narrow banding, P25, LTE, whatever, you will likely see encryption become more prevalent.

Need:
As was stated, most fire departments don't have the need for encryption. Actually, it benefits many of them to not be encrypted. Likely you will see most fire ground frequencies stay the same. Same goes for wild land fire fighting. Conventional/simplex is still commonly used, and analog is the standard, so unlikely you will see encryption any time soon.

Other areas you likely won't see encryption until the need for technology changes things:
Marine VHF
Aircraft VHF/UHF
HF/short wave

12.5 KHz analog radios are going to be around for a long time. Eventually we will see the FCC push for 6.25KHz or better, and then these folks will be pushed into the digital world.

I don't see Marine VHF, Aircraft, or similar users going that way any time soon. FCC has made no plans to narrow band any of these services.

Free and easy access to your local police department communications will likely go away in the next few years, be it them going to digital or LTE, it's going to happen.
 
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