Will scanners become obsolete?

Texoma24

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I was shopping for radios for a buddy of mine who owns a process service/security company in Sherman a few weeks ago. Talked to Megahertz about the Howe tower and while the airtime was quite reasonable the equipment wasn't. An XPR7525e was a grand any way you cut it. Sent him to Motorola who sold him the WAVE stuff and solved the problem. But I got to thinking, did I just contribute to the death of the scanner?

The Motorola APX Next seems to be the future of Public Safety radio. The NEXT utilizes 4G LTE over both cloud and FirstNet with radio (RF) functions. The bat wings even built an assistant, ViQi to replace the human dispatcher at some point. With this explosion in POC (Push over Cellular) are we seeing the Scanner "End times"?

Fannin County Sheriff recently moved to Motorola M CORE and only use the traditional repeater when they can't connect to the virtual network. For the most part they are conducting their day to day operations on a Virtual trunked system the scanner is deaf to. Fannin isn't rich or bright so if they are doing this others have to be also. How long before the rural communities jump on the WAVE and move to virtual or WiFi based radio networks?

I almost wonder if voting against Trump would open more scanner doors (Kicks self for that thought) ....
 

fredva

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This question has already been asked in multiple threads, ever since the FirstNET contract was awarded and probably before. Everybody has their own opinion. People on both sides point to reasons why it will or will not happen.
 

626hawkeye

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I think as far as public safety goes yes. However there is still tons of stuff to listen to. I listen to public safety, aviation, rail, businesses, transportation and many other things. I even listen in on my kids with their walkie talkies. It is discouraging the way public safety is going but again there is tons to listen to.
 

fxdscon

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As mentioned, that question has been asked many, many times over many years and has been beaten to death. The forums are searchable, and you can easily see the volume of threads on that subject.

There will always be many other things to listen to besides public safety systems.
 

mmckenna

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With this explosion in POC (Push over Cellular) are we seeing the Scanner "End times"?
It's a pretty deep subject, and probably well beyond what you'd get accurate answers to on a hobby website. You'll get a lot of opinions and doom-sayers.

There are a lot of ways to look at this….
Radio manufacturers have worked hard to convince public safety users that they must have a radio with all the features, all the bands, all the accessories. If you look at the cost of some of these 'full feature' radios, you'll see it's easy to get into the $8000 each range.
That is absolutely ridiculous.
Most law enforcement users don't use 10% of the capabilities of their radios. Getting a police officer to change channels on their radios can be very difficult.

APCO's Project 25 was supposed to develop a standard digital mode and help drive the cost of radios down.
That failed. Radios are still overpriced and and while ~most~ P25 radios are compatible, that hasn't stopped soMe Manufacturers from trying to lock users into their specific brand to keep prices up.

Dealers have pressured agencies. Agencies don't always have the knowledge to make good decisions. Taxpayers are viewed as a bottomless pit of free money. And it's easy to manipulate the voters into approving these multi-million dollar radio systems.


And then there's FirstNet. A good idea, but a money making thing for the carrier.
Many agencies have quickly forgotten the lessons they learned when they tried to move all their radio service over to Nextel. Memories seem to be short on that. While most didn't, a few did and it didn't go as well as the Nextel sales guy said it would.

Yeah, there's lots of new radios that will support WiFi, LTE as well as standard LMR. That can be a good thing if it's implemented well. Having a fall back is a good idea. Getting wide area coverage at a fraction of the cost is a benefit to SOME agencies.
But from my experience, AT&T/FirstNet are not up to snuff on building reliable sites. I'd not put all my eggs in that basket.

I suspect you'll see some agencies stick with FirstNet and have a simple system as a back up.
I also suspect you'll see a lot of agencies keep their LMR systems and use FirstNet as the back up.

and I'm sure you'll see some small agencies dump it all and go 100% FirstNet.

FirstNet/LTE isn't scanner user friendly.
More agencies will go encrypted, like it or not.

But as said, there's still plenty of stuff out there to listen to.
 

Texoma24

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I agree that there will always be stuff to listen to. Fire, EMS, Aviation, Commercial and this n that. I have to wonder though, will the scanner industry push to produce a scanner capable of locking into the specific spectrum used by public safety on LTE systems? That being after were all kicked off it and moved to 5G? I think I see what AT&T would like to do and that is move its regular users off 4G and onto 5G then the 4G LTE become exclusively FirstNet. They sure don't build tower/sites all that much in fact in Texas they inherited much of their network from SWB Mobile who built it up everywhere back in the mid to late 90's. I have read about much of the mishandling by AT&T in relation to FirstNet so I am kinda waiting to see that whole program crumble. But these POC radios now have some serious potential and that kinda scares me. I could see POC taking a good section of the radio users completely off RF communications rendering the scanner a lot quieter than it once was.

Well thanks for the replies and sorry about beating the dead monkey, you didn't have to comment, coulda just skipped over the post and moved about your day. But it's always nice to see a new thought on the subject.
 

mwjones

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LTE Networks are "packet switched", so all traffic appears as data (and in theory, you could have dozens of conversations happening on a single frequency. There's not an audio "stream" or timeslot that could be decoded as there is with analog and digital LMR.

Sadly, that means that users using PTT over LTE will not be able to be monitored by 3rd parties, and there is no technology today or likely in the future that will be able to monitor it.

Am I too concerned, no. LTE has some inherent issues that I have my reservations on (coverage and reliability), and I see some agencies sticking to the tried and true LMR for those reasons. There's also private companies, railroads, aircraft and other services that will not go LTE, or have invested too much in LMR over the years that they can't justify going LTE (or can't justify the recurring cost vs. a one-time cost of a repeater and the license) - my employer continues to put up their own repeaters for security at our various offices because most of the commercial LTE networks offer poor coverage indoors, and we'd invest more in installing a Distributed Antenna System to repeat the LTE signals in the buildings to improve that coverage than the cost of the repeater.
 

mmckenna

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I agree that there will always be stuff to listen to. Fire, EMS, Aviation, Commercial and this n that. I have to wonder though, will the scanner industry push to produce a scanner capable of locking into the specific spectrum used by public safety on LTE systems?
No. LTE is broadband packet switched and encrypted.

That being after were all kicked off it and moved to 5G? I think I see what AT&T would like to do and that is move its regular users off 4G and onto 5G then the 4G LTE become exclusively FirstNet.
No. That's not how it works.
4G and 5G are not frequency bands, they are emissions.

FirstNet was provided with Band 14 in the 700MHz spectrum. It is currently using LTE emissions, but there's really not any requirement for them to keep using LTE (although they probably will for the foreseeable future).
Consumers can use Band 14 if it's available, however Public Safety has priority on that band.
FirstNet user devices can use any of the AT&T spectrum, not -just- band 14.

They sure don't build tower/sites all that much in fact in Texas they inherited much of their network from SWB Mobile who built it up everywhere back in the mid to late 90's.
Yeah, building new cell sites isn't as common as it used to be. The cell carriers grabbed good sites a long time ago and built out their systems. Over time, the've swapped out the radios to support newer technology. New cell sites are often built for additional capacity (reducing cell size to support more uses in each cell). In rural areas, there's not enough users.
There are a lot of areas with no coverage, that's for sure, the cell carriers are in the business to make profit, not to light up uninhabited areas just in case someone with a cell phone wanders into it.
FirstNet has some benefits:
The lower frequencies travel farther than the higher frequencies.
FirstNet users can run higher power than consumer stuff. Not much, but a bit, so they tend to get a bit more coverage.

I have read about much of the mishandling by AT&T in relation to FirstNet so I am kinda waiting to see that whole program crumble.
Not sure I'm aware of anything major.
They have had a few stumbles along the way, but ultimately the government does have control over it.
And they won't be going anywhere soon, they have a 25 year deal….

But these POC radios now have some serious potential and that kinda scares me. I could see POC taking a good section of the radio users completely off RF communications rendering the scanner a lot quieter than it once was.
Already has. The two way radio industry monitors the number of new FCC licenses issued each year. It's been pretty much falling for a long time.
Cell phones and PTT over Cellular work for most non critical users.
 
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Fannin County Sheriff recently moved to Motorola M CORE and only use the traditional repeater when they can't connect to the virtual network. For the most part they are conducting their day to day operations on a Virtual trunked system the scanner is deaf to.
I'm confused... M Core is a Motorola system platform that's required for multi-site P25 trunking, which I don't see listed under Fannin County. Do you mean P25 conventional talkgroups? Those are programmed at the subscriber level and the repeater is totally transparent to all traffic as long as the NAC is qualified. No controller is required. Your scanner shouldn't care either as long as you have the correct NAC or are listening in open P25 mode.
 

Texoma24

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mwjones & mmckenna you both answered a bunch. I'll keep buying equipment I guess.

motorola_otaku So is everyone else in the county. They have 3 sites now and each with a site controller. They only have one frequency pair which is operating as a simulcast system. However one of the fire guys was standing next to a deputy recently with his own XTS2500 on the Sheriff's channel and it was not receiving any traffic what so ever while the deputies radio was getting warm with traffic. In a press release a number of months ago they stated they were moving to a partial IP based network. While I am by no means a radio network engineer I searched around and found the white paper explaining Motorola CORE systems. A fire guy asked their communications provider about the CORE stuff and he nodded but refused to go into details as the Sheriff has ordered him to not discuss the system with the public.

Recently they began installing a white WIFI antenna on all the deputy vehicles which we were told was specifically for the radio system that where the repeater coverage would drop (which is all over the northern section of the county) the WIFI would kick in. This lead us to believe they were now using some sort of WIFI radio system like WAVE which does appear to be interoperable with a CORE system. The CORE system to my (not great) understanding could be built to work with an cloud network AND a conventional repeater system (or Trunking). and they are running the MCC 7500 Dispatch consoles now.

There is encryption on the network, But I only see it when the Sheriff himself uses the radio, his radio ID gives him away. Another deputy mentioned they were using Motorola's Mobile Communicator app also. While I have not personally seen which APX portable they are using I know several models support IP or WAVE network integration. So if this isn't a CORE system, what is it and should the citizens of the county continue to spend wads of money buying scanners or should the give it up and learn to read a book or take up quilting as a new hobby?
 
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