St Louis County to purchase new radio system

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dakota91

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Saw this on KSDK tonight. Looks like St Louis County signed a contract with Motorola for a new $75 million digital radio system with 9,000 radios. No word on whether or not it will be interoperable with the City of St Louis system.

County Executive Charlie Dooley signs contract with Motorla Solutions | ksdk.com

St. Louis County (KSDK) - St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley signed a $75 million contract Thursday with Motorola Solutions.

The contract allows modern interoperable radio communications for police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and essential local government agencies throughout St. Louis County.
 
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KeyWest35

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I heard rumor that it is a P25 system that is similar to Cincinnati's. I will be interesting ro see how it works with all of the Police and Fire agencies that will use it in St louis County. Chicago and the city of St Louis already have the digital radios but don't use them as they cannot communicate effectively out of large buildings. It is a rather high safety risk for first responders when they cannot effectively communicate with each other. Two firefighter deaths were blamed on the new digital radios in a suburb near Cincinnati and i never heard the outcome but did hear that the international firefighters union has complained about the safety issue involving some digital systems not transmitting out of some buildings.
 

KeyWest35

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I heard rumor that it is a P25 system that is similar to Cincinnati's. It will be interesting ro see how it works with all of the Police and Fire agencies that will use it in St louis County. Chicago and the city of St Louis already have the digital radios but don't use them as they cannot communicate effectively out of large buildings. It is a rather high safety risk for first responders when they cannot effectively communicate with each other. Two firefighter deaths were blamed on the new digital radios in a suburb near Cincinnati and i never heard the outcome but did hear that the international firefighters union has complained about the safety issue involving some digital systems not transmitting out of some buildings.
I meant to say the Fire Departments of Chicago and St Louis have the radios but don't use them yet.
 

jeatock

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I assume that some talkgroups are going to be connected to MOSWIN. I also assume that it will be proprietary ASTRO25(r) trunking, which means STL is married to their once chosen Manufacturer for the life of the system, and at their mercy for the pricing of future purchases, costly non-stop upgrades, and planned obsolescence. Taxpayers beware.

I found one news report statement interesting: in effect they accepted the bid before the system had even been designed. What kind of bid specs are those? Would you buy a house based on the contractor's 'promise' of "Yea, I think I can build it for that. Sign here and we'll design it. Oh, you wanted a 4-burner stove in the kitchen? Doorbell? No, only this special $200 button will work..."? I wonder how much will be added to the initial contract and how many more years it will be before the system is running. I'm putting my bet on a 100% cost over-run, because of the history of multiple similar systems.

At least MOSWIN is going to allow any radio builder to supply radios that meet their criteria; a system with an excellent overall plan. Way to go DPS!

Daryl Jones put up a fairy tale post about a mythical county. I believe that 'splains it.

Daryl Jones' Weblog
 
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rcc13

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jeatock. I couldn't agree with you more. If the tax payers of STL County think they are going to get by with 70 mil, they are mistaken. This system not only has not been designed...I can verify that many county agencies don't even have a clue how they might or migh not be impacted by this system. And there are all kinds of individual municipal agencies who think this is some kind of salvation for them.

People aren't narrowbanding and they think this system is going to just magically "take care" of them. I hope they don't think the FCC is going to just forgive them for thinking that they would be ok.
 

kruser

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jeatock. I couldn't agree with you more. If the tax payers of STL County think they are going to get by with 70 mil, they are mistaken. This system not only has not been designed...I can verify that many county agencies don't even have a clue how they might or migh not be impacted by this system. And there are all kinds of individual municipal agencies who think this is some kind of salvation for them.

People aren't narrowbanding and they think this system is going to just magically "take care" of them. I hope they don't think the FCC is going to just forgive them for thinking that they would be ok.

Am I missing something here?
What does this thread have to do with narrowbanding?
It's about a new (800 MHz most likely) digital radio system.
 
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rcc13

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Am I missing something here?
What does this thread have to do with narrowbanding?
It's about a new (800 MHz most likely) digital radio system.
It has a direct effect on narrowbanding. I am pretty sure that there are STL agencies that are not narrowbanding because they think this new system will take care of them. The point is, there is NO way that the new county-wide system is going to be in place by the end of this year and those agencies are not going to be narrowband compliant. It is my thought that there will be a ton of last minute scrambling at the end of this year as these agencies figure this out. This is all just my opinion...but I think that we are seeing signs of this already.
 

kruser

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It has a direct effect on narrowbanding. I am pretty sure that there are STL agencies that are not narrowbanding because they think this new system will take care of them. The point is, there is NO way that the new county-wide system is going to be in place by the end of this year and those agencies are not going to be narrowband compliant. It is my thought that there will be a ton of last minute scrambling at the end of this year as these agencies figure this out. This is all just my opinion...but I think that we are seeing signs of this already.
As far as I know, a good majority of this new system is already in place. I think the license has even been granted already.
Towers exist in the locations shown on the license (at least some of them). Now I'm not sure if the actual radios for the new system are in place as well as the antennas needed but that can be swapped fairly quick. Swapping out mobiles would take a long time.
The agencies that join will be fine but if anyone keeps the old vhf point to point channels active, then that equipment will need to become compliant.
Most halfway recent equipment will be compliant already with a change in the radios programming. And of course a license modification showing the bandwidth change but that is free of cost.
Still not a super big deal figuring those channels are generally not used in a mobile environment.
My guess is that most smaller municipalities will be slow to move to this system if they even move at all. It will be on them to become narrowband compliant for those using VHF frequencies which is a good majority of the users in the county. There are a lot of UHF (450) users here also but I think a fair majority of them are already using 12.5 kHz bandwidth.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Maybe nobody will join and the system will end up being used by just the official county agencies and departments. I'd guess that several have promised to join though.
Are there any incentives for a small municipality to join into this new system?
I would think many will end up with much worse coverage than they currently have now. Then some will have better.
 
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As far as I know, a good majority of this new system is already in place. I think the license has even been granted already.
Towers exist in the locations shown on the license (at least some of them). Now I'm not sure if the actual radios for the new system are in place as well as the antennas needed but that can be swapped fairly quick. Swapping out mobiles would take a long time.
The agencies that join will be fine but if anyone keeps the old vhf point to point channels active, then that equipment will need to become compliant.
Most halfway recent equipment will be compliant already with a change in the radios programming. And of course a license modification showing the bandwidth change but that is free of cost.
Still not a super big deal figuring those channels are generally not used in a mobile environment.
My guess is that most smaller municipalities will be slow to move to this system if they even move at all. It will be on them to become narrowband compliant for those using VHF frequencies which is a good majority of the users in the county. There are a lot of UHF (450) users here also but I think a fair majority of them are already using 12.5 kHz bandwidth.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Maybe nobody will join and the system will end up being used by just the official county agencies and departments. I'd guess that several have promised to join though.
Are there any incentives for a small municipality to join into this new system?
I would think many will end up with much worse coverage than they currently have now. Then some will have better.
Some of those sites (the ones that don't exist) were pro forma locations to establish perimeter contours. The prevailing theory was that you can build an aggregated contour with your worst-case locations, then when a vendor comes in to specify where they want the system, the license would be modified so that the contours from that location are contained within the aggregate. Make sense? Step 1 locks in some resources no one currently has. Those resources could then be moved around on the basis of the selected vendor. Step 2 then finalizes the location.

I don't think "swapping" fixed-end assets would be an accurate term. The legacy system would have to remain intact up until optimization, cut-over, more optimization, and acceptance, so the towers would need to support the existing VHF systems, as well as lower-loss cable and focused directivity 800 MHz antennas (you want all that power beamed into the streets where you need it, not going out to Calloway County). That would also mean 2 radios, unless they buy $7 grand two-band mobiles. The sales point for that is that those mobiles could roam onto MOSWIN and go anywhere between the pockets of 800 and VHF land.

Only the most very recently licensed systems (after Jan. 1, 2011) should be considered "narrowband compliant." A handful were before then, but it's only a handful. You're right, for most things it IS a matter of programming, but programming = labor costs, whether it's done internally by a competent person, or whether it's subbed out to a vendor. Reprogramming will also potentially disrupt any simulcast configurations, which are highly critical to frequency and phasing. So it's not so simple for the more advanced systems (even if they're simplex).

Regardless of whether it's kept or migrated to a talkgroup, things like "point to point," "sheriff's net," "'federal' mutual aid," and "fire mutual aid" still have to be narrowbanded to fully work with everyone else who's not requesting a waiver.
 

kruser

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The sales point for that is that those mobiles could roam onto MOSWIN and go anywhere between the pockets of 800 and VHF land.
Everything you said makes sense but MOSWIN is another one.
I'd asked in the MOSWIN thread about their choice of some frequencies that fall within the VHF paging bands (152-153 and 158-159).
I commented that I sure hope they do not use any paging range frequencies in the metro areas as we all know how paging signals can ruin a scanner hobbyists experience unless extra filters are used etc.
I'd imagine the commercial radios they select will have tuned filters so they too are not affected by paging tower signals but one would still think they would stay far away. I guess they will force the paging operators up to the 929-932 band if interference occurs. That would be great in my ears by the way.
Anyway, iamhere300 replied to my comment and suggested that the MOSWIN system will most likely be 700 or 800 MHz in the major metro areas and not VHF like is being installed throughout the majority of the state.
If this is the case, they won't have an excuse to purchase those $7k dual band radios! I'm sure they will though.
What iamhere300 said does make sense being as the few large metro systems on the air today all share the same system ID 1cE. St. Louis City, St. Charles and what, Kansas City or is it Independence.
It will still be interesting to see how this all plays out and of course how it all gets tied together in the end.
 
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Everything you said makes sense but MOSWIN is another one.
I'd asked in the MOSWIN thread about their choice of some frequencies that fall within the VHF paging bands (152-153 and 158-159).
I commented that I sure hope they do not use any paging range frequencies in the metro areas as we all know how paging signals can ruin a scanner hobbyists experience unless extra filters are used etc.
I'd imagine the commercial radios they select will have tuned filters so they too are not affected by paging tower signals but one would still think they would stay far away. I guess they will force the paging operators up to the 929-932 band if interference occurs. That would be great in my ears by the way.
Anyway, iamhere300 replied to my comment and suggested that the MOSWIN system will most likely be 700 or 800 MHz in the major metro areas and not VHF like is being installed throughout the majority of the state.
If this is the case, they won't have an excuse to purchase those $7k dual band radios! I'm sure they will though.
What iamhere300 said does make sense being as the few large metro systems on the air today all share the same system ID 1cE. St. Louis City, St. Charles and what, Kansas City or is it Independence.
It will still be interesting to see how this all plays out and of course how it all gets tied together in the end.
One-way paging is a dying service. There are very few of these systems operational, at least compared to 20, even 15 years ago. Many of these frequencies were sold at auction to various bidders, like Warner Communications. The resource is treated like real estate. Frequencies could be bought or sold or leased, as long as the use is within the winner's license area. That's the same case with the old marine telephone channel pairs that are owned by Motorola and Maritel. In some cases, these "Part 22" channels can be licensed to whomever. There's a lot of legalese and trivia associated with that. I don't think the overload from that will be as much of a threat as it would have been just a few years ago. Why use these in the first place? Because VHF is jam packed with users and they would have to get the permission of every user on frequency and off to each side in order to have trunking exclusivity. It's hard to convince people to write those letters, even if their agency only uses the channel once every 10 years.

You bet that VHF here/ 800 there thing is going to be the justifying factor in buying top tier stuff. Now, why was VHF even considered? Because to cover the entire state to the level the proponents wanted would take only 1/3 of the sites. But you'll see VHF as a low density use. Channel pairs are hard to find in the more populated areas.

929-932 has its own share of problems for commercial paging, but even that's on its way out. Text messaging on cellular telephones is by far replacing one way paging.

It's probably a coin toss to guess how anything goes, but look back at this in 10 years - if they've fully jumped onto the system by then (look at St. Louis City Fire still on VHF Y-E-A-R-S after everyone else has been on 800 there) - and I'm betting you will see the influence of some big political forces at play.
 

kruser

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I would not think that one way paging is going to die anytime soon.
It is still heavily used in the medical field for doctors and hospital staff.
They could use local systems for the hospital staff but the doctors still need the high power systems when away from the hospitals.
We have a LOT of doctors at work and every one of them still carries a one way pager.
I live near three major hospitals and they all seem to need a VHF and UHF (930) transmitters on their rooftops. The 900 signals do not mess with much here but the VHF signals tear the heck out of anything but a commercial grade receiver. I do agree that one way paging is dieing in the public sector but if you monitor the two common VHF frequencies, I'd bet they are still running a 75% duty cycle.
The signals in the 930 range run an even higher duty cycle.
I'd love to see they day that they die off though! I must use vhf PAR filters on the scanners for most of my VHF monitoring otherwise the paging signals get in and wreak havoc.
I also own Icom R7000 and R9000 receivers and those are mostly immune to the paging crud as I call it. Much better front ends there.
 

kruser

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Has anyone seen this? St. Louis County Radio Commision: ULS Application - PubSafty/SpecEmer/PubSaftyNtlPlan,806-817/851-862MHz,Trunked - 0004674129 - SAINT LOUIS COUNTY EMERGENCY RADIO COMMISSION It's a thought, didn't know if anyone has searched for these freqs. The emissions show it is a P25 system.
Yes, That location is the counties EOC site where they have been doing a lot of work lately.
I guess I should watch the frequencies again for activity as it has been a while since I let them run.
There was another license that showed two other locations along with this location but I don't recall the callsign for that application.
It had the south county, north county and I think a Creve Coeur site or maybe Clayton listed.
 

jayres

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Everything you said makes sense but MOSWIN is another one.
I'd asked in the MOSWIN thread about their choice of some frequencies that fall within the VHF paging bands (152-153 and 158-159).
I commented that I sure hope they do not use any paging range frequencies in the metro areas as we all know how paging signals can ruin a scanner hobbyists experience unless extra filters are used etc.
I'm pretty sure when they are doing system design; the the concerns of the hobbyists having to get extra filters are not very high up there on the list. System performance and capacity is slightly more important.
 

kruser

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I'm pretty sure when they are doing system design; the the concerns of the hobbyists having to get extra filters are not very high up there on the list. System performance and capacity is slightly more important.
I really hope you do not think I really thought they would design the system with the scanner hobbyist in mind!
At the same time, this could be a real issue just like the Nextel fiasco was if VHF paging signals do get into the mobile units. So it is not an unrealistic thought as it could happen.

My concern (or wish, dream whatever) was that I "hope" neighboring (or local) towers that may be in reception range do not use any of the frequencies near the paging segments. PAR filters are great but they also attenuate nearby frequencies +/- about 1 MHz from their center point which may be just enough to kill any chance of receiving a more distant tower that has a weak signal to begin with.
I like to monitor everything. The further a system is from me, the more fun I have with it. It gives me something to do to try and improve upon that signal. If one of the new towers uses some frequencies in or near the paging ranges, then I may be SOL and will accept that. Then again, maybe I can improve upon a filter design. I don't stop at just the local signals I can hear with a paperclip like many users do, I try for everything as that is what the hobby is all about for me.
I enjoy building and testing antennas, preamps, preselectors etc. I work with what they give me and surely do not expect any system engineer to design a system catered towards the scanner or radio hobbyist such as myself or anyone else. That would be stupid thinking but I sure can "hope" for the best!
 
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