Statewide Wireless Network article

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MB

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Plans for statewide public safety radio network move forward

By: CASEY RYAN VOCK
Staff Writer
June 05, 2006

The Press Republican

PLATTSBURGH — The New York State Office for Technology is on its way to implementing a public safety radio network that will connect police, firefighters and emergency workers across the state.

Since 1996, the state and several of its agencies had been planning to replace their nearly 30-year-old conventional analog radio systems, according to Thomas J. Cowper, deputy director for the project known as the Statewide Wireless Network, who discussed the project's origin and the state's plans recently at Plattsburgh State.

Rather than create redundant systems, the state began researching one statewide system to be used by all state agencies.

"The cost to bring users on to that one network is very small compared to having to build out a whole new network for each agency," said Cowper, who spent two years as a sergeant with Plattsburgh-based State Police before working for the Office for Technology.

M/A-COM, a Virginia-based developer of communications technologies, was selected by the state as the contractor for the Statewide Wireless Network, or SWN, which is estimated to cost more than $2 billion dollars and to be financed over 20 years.

The project is funded by the state wireless communications surcharge.

However, Cowper said, the corporation will not receive any money until the project is complete and the state has inspected and is confident with it. The state also has the option to purchase the network at any time during the life of the contract.

"We have specified that the network has to support up to 65,000 users statewide," he said. "That would be the largest public safety radio system in the country by far."

The network will be a modern trunked radio system that will have "all the bells and whistles," according to Cowper.

"It will be able to transmit voice and data at the same time," he said. "Our coverage requirement is for 95-percent mobile coverage over the geographic environment and 97-percent coverage on all of the state's roadways. It will be highly reliable and public-safety grade."

The network will also have the capability to automatically locate vehicles and to fully encrypt data transmissions.

According to Cowper, the project goals are to improve communications for the users, improve interoperability among the users, save taxpayer dollars by eliminating redundant infrastructure and to reduce the proliferation of radio towers.

"We want to share the existing infrastructure as much as possible," he said. "Certainly, all state agencies are going to use this one network."

"And we already have many local agencies that have asked to participate as full partners on our network, to use our system as their radio network. It will operate almost like having their own radio system. They will have their own virtual, private network on our system for day-to-day operations.

"But during a crisis, we'll all be able to link in."

Cowper said he expects the infrastructure to be in place and fully operational by 2010.

Last week's summit was one of nine being held this spring and summer in different areas of the state in effort to educate agencies, authorities, municipalities, departments and citizens about the state's implementation of the State Wireless Network.
 

MB

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What does everyone think of this?

Fully operational by 2010?

They are going to have to have towers all over the Adirondack Mountains to provide the coverage they are talking about. Especially in the 800Mhz range. I wonder what the APA will say about this.

I have a feeling this is just going to be one big nightmare. Not to mention the nightmare it will provide for us scanning enthusiasts. No more, NYSP, DOT, etc....

What was New York State thinking?? Just look at the problems in PA!

Any comments?
 
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DaveNF2G

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Old news.

No, it won't be built on time. Some counties (notably Erie) are eager to get out of the radio business and have signed on to have SWN replace everything they operate - which is why Phase I is being built out there. Local users, however, have yet to be impressed with any of the system demonstrations.

New York has always insisted on making its own mistakes rather than learn from anyone else's. All of the problems that currently exist with OpenSky in other states are irrelevant here in the Empire State.
 

MB

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You would think they should have did their research, and realize all the problems out their with OpenSky. I think its just all about money. Instead of a quality expensive Motorola system, they tried to save some money and went with a cheap unreliable system, and they are just to stupid to realize it.

It is all just a big waste of money! I believe the NYSP, DOT and ENCON systems work just fine now. I don't think they are going to get much better with OpenSky. Especially in the Adirondacks.

Heck, NYSP Troop B are still in the process of fitting all their cars with new MA-COM VHF-hi mobiles, and they are going to turn around and buy all new 800Mhz mobiles.

What a waste of our tax payers dollars!

I wish I was at that summit! I would have gave Thomas J. Cowper a piece of my mind!
 

PJH

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OpenSky in PA became a problem when the PA was playing the role of contractor. Nevermind that Rohn didn't account for losing money in the contract that put them out of business.

NY did learn from this mistake and thats why you see General Dynamics? as the system intergrator. They will be doing all the dirty work that PA was doing.

I had was able to sit in on a PA demostration the other day, and I must say, its pretty snazzy. There is also talk in the rumormill that MA/COM will license their format to scanner companies for a compatable scanner. No doubt with the PA/NY and whoever else systems going online and marketed to fire/EMS departments that the same users will be requesting this for their members.

OpenSky is really a nifty system. I didn't like it at first, but it really is cool. HOWEVER, I think that it being a non-standard system is a big mistake for the "interop" buzz. NY stood more to gain going with a Motorola or full P25 system. But, since NY has been in bed with GE/MA-COM for years, I didn't see it going that way.

As for the comment of the existing systems being just fine, you haven't been to the Catskills/Hudson Valley area's where NOTHING works well.
 

kc2kvz

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PJH said:
As for the comment of the existing systems being just fine, you haven't been to the Catskills/Hudson Valley area's where NOTHING works well.

And who's to say that an 800mhz system, with less range and greater hardware requirment will work either. No matter how hard you try, you can't transmit through mountians. If people are resistant to building enough towers now, how do you think it will go when the state has to build even more to force the system to work? The whole thing seems fundamentally flawed to me.
 
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N_Jay

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They are using P25 at VHF with in vehicle repeaters to get that coverage in the mountains.
 

PJH

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And, if you put the infrastructure in place, any band will work. Just because you see 700/800 and mountains does not = no workie
 

MB

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kc2kvz said:
And who's to say that an 800mhz system, with less range and greater hardware requirment will work either. No matter how hard you try, you can't transmit through mountians. If people are resistant to building enough towers now, how do you think it will go when the state has to build even more to force the system to work? The whole thing seems fundamentally flawed to me.

My words exactly kc2kvz!

Essex County is in the process of building a new Motorola VHF-hi digital trunked system. They first looked at 800Mhz and hey realized 800Mhz would require numerous towers and the APA would never allow that. So they are going with VHF-hi.
 

MB

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PJH said:
And, if you put the infrastructure in place, any band will work. Just because you see 700/800 and mountains does not = no workie

Putting the infrastructure in place is the key thing. How are they ever going to be able to place all those towers in the Adirondacks with the APA? We don't even have cell phone coverage up here in most places!
 

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N_Jay said:
They are using P25 at VHF with in vehicle repeaters to get that coverage in the mountains.

So your saying that they will be using P25 VHF in the mountain areas? Will this still be OpenSky. Excuse me, but I don't understand.
 

dave3825

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PJH said:
There is also talk in the rumor mill that MA/COM will license their format to scanner companies for a compatible scanner.

I don't think that would ever happen..
MA/COM's biggest selling point is that
their system is "unmonitorable by scanners"
I don't think they would ever do it..
 

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dave3825 said:
I don't think that would ever happen..
MA/COM's biggest selling point is that
their system is "unmonitorable by scanners"
I don't think they would ever do it..

Just like when trunking first came out - someone eventually figured out how to decode it (Greg Knox I think) - hopefully someone will figure out MA/COM without using their patent or copyright.
 
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N_Jay

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MB said:
So your saying that they will be using P25 VHF in the mountain areas? Will this still be OpenSky. Excuse me, but I don't understand.

It's P25 not OpenSky.

There will be OpenSky there also, but not to the same level of coverage.
 

PJH

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The sales guys mention that current scanners cannot monitor Opensky, but its not a major selling point or deal breaker. The same was said about IMBE. If you want secure, you get the encyption packages.

I now am on long term assignment in the Catskills... VHF and 800 works were I am. If PA with their topography works on 800, I don't think that NY will be any worse. Connecticut is all 800 in the Litchfield Hills as well as Western Mass in the Berkshire Mountains. North Carolina has it working up in the Blue Mountains. San Bernadino CA has their system working up in the mountains outside of Cajon down into Death Valley.

All this stuff works. NY does not have topography or protected areas that does not exists in other parts of the US.

When it comes to NY and public safety, the state will be able to construct what they want up north, just as they are able to do down where I am. However, we have to deal with the UDC and NPS. Right now we are slated to go with VHF and 800 depending on the area. We only have cell coverage from towers in PA. Nothing here on the NY side.
 

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N_Jay said:
It's P25 not OpenSky.

There will be OpenSky there also, but not to the same level of coverage.

Well that will be good! I should be able to monitor it with a digital scanner in my area - right?
 
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N_Jay

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MB said:
Well that will be good! I should be able to monitor it with a digital scanner in my area - right?

You will be able to monitor the P25 traffic.
 

MB

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PJH said:
All this stuff works. NY does not have topography or protected areas that does not exists in other parts of the US.

When it comes to NY and public safety, the state will be able to construct what they want up north, just as they are able to do down where I am. However, we have to deal with the UDC and NPS. Right now we are slated to go with VHF and 800 depending on the area. We only have cell coverage from towers in PA. Nothing here on the NY side.

Clinton County has a lot less mountains then Essex County and Clinton is having all kinds of troubles with their 800Mhz trunked system and coverage. There are a lot of dead spots.

I doubt the State will be able to construct what they want up here with the APA. The State has been trying to get better cell coverage up here for years and the APA has put a stop to that everytime. The County and State have been trying to improve communications here for years by adding new towers and the APA has put a stop to that everytime. The APA will not let the County and State put a communications tower and cell sites near the new Essex County E911 Public Safety / NYSP Regional Dispatch Center either.

The APA has a pretty strong hold on things where I am - just try bulding a house up here... what a nightmare...
 

vsny

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800 Mhz not working in mountains?
How about North Eastern Suffolk County PD 800 Mhz trunked system not working to the point that satellite phones are carried in cars (as cellular is N/G also) and each call is 8 dollars...used very little to keep us tax payers quiet.
 

PJH

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How about agencies not skimp on equipment when then purchase systems? I cannot tell you how many meetings that I have attended with municpialities who wants 100% coverage but will only pay for 25%.

There was one agency that wanted a system to cover 97% in a mountainous area. We said it will take x amount of sites. They said we are only going to pay for y amount and that it will cover 97% or better.

How can you argue with that kind of logic? You can't in government. Half the problem is that they "plan" these systems over long periods of time and don't budget for the cost increases - so when they actually do order it, its that much more and they are forced to cut options or coverage.

Dealing with commerical/private sector is much easier. Usually they say "how much to make it work" and they pay for it.

Its amazing how large commerial/utitily TRS's are with excellent coverage, but the local government TRS in the same area sucks.

Speaking of another certain agency who tried to do the above, they ended up with a compromise and a certain area in question (in the mountains) had the best coverage of the entire system (which ranged from mountains to valley's to coastal areas).
 
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