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County 800 Mhz Trunked System...the future?

24 posts in this topic

I don't know much about radios, but i heard some rumblings that within the next 10 years Westchester's UHF trunked system will be replaced with an 800 Mhz system. Anyone else hear anything of this sort? Is there any advantage to this technology vs what we have now?

I can only hope that IF this is true, the system offers better coverage, especially for portables and includes some data component for MDTs or an equivalent.

Just curious, thanks again to anyone that can shed light on this.

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As one who was a key player in the design and implementation of the current trunk system, it is highly unlikely that the system will be replaced for years !!!

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The issue is that the Federal Gov't is taking away all the T-Band spectrum (470MHz - 512MHz), if I recall correctly in eight years. All of the frequencies for the County's UHF Trunked Sytem are in this band. The Fed's are taking this back to auction this specturm off to the highest bidder. In return Public Safety got exclusive use of the "D Block" of frequencies in the 700MHz band. Will post more later when I get back.

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One can only hope that if this does happen, every police, fire and EMS agency in the county will be operating off this system as the norm

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One can only hope that if this does happen, every police, fire and EMS agency in the county will be operating off this system as the norm

1st it would have to work. Many of those systems have been developed and there are lots of places that have walked away from them.

Before any system including the trunked system would be used by everyone it would have to work for each type of agency (PD, FD, EMS and career, combo, vol. and urban, sub, etc. etc.)

JetPhoto and 16fire5 like this

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That pipe dream is no different than the one Motorola tried to assemble to create a state wide emergency network on the "D" block, and that failed. It's being pushed by the radio manufactuers to keep them in business. This whole shift for anyone on VHF & UHF to narrowband is also a nightmare. Many departments can't afford it & it goes way beyond haveing a radio reprogramed. This means departments that have very small budgets probably have to upgrade their radios due to incompatability & in some departments it may mean emergency purchases if the change over doesn't work as they thought it would.

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Here is a link to the FCC's White Paper on the Broadband Network http://transition.fc...OC-298799A1.pdf.

This system is a broadband system which would provide data, video, and (hopefully) voice communications. Read note #7 at the bottom of page 7 (which continues on the bottom of page 8). It says that the voice communications will use the LTE (4G technology) standard over this broadband network even though the standard for this type of voice communications has not been fully established. This is just great, they want to build us a system with 44,000 towers nationwide (page 8) that does not even a consensus of how the radio will transmit.

Seems like a boondoggle to me.

Some additional links with info @ http://www.iafc.org/MemberCenter/OnSceneArticle.cfm?ItemNumber=6028 & info on the T Band take back http://www.iafc.org/MemberCenter/OnSceneArticle.cfm?ItemNumber=6029.

Edited by SteveOFD
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Why do we have trunked systems and narrow banding? Because we don't have enough bandwidth i.e. frequencies for all the uses out there. So when we suffer the consequences = busy sounds when we push to talk, unintelligible transmissions we must remember we are at least part of the problem. Take Orange County for example look at the number of UHF frequencies licensed to all the individual departments. Could you imagine if the channels were efficiently used? Just like all the little fiefdoms have duplicate apparatus so it goes with radio communications.

I think if you step back and look at LMR communications in emergency services there is such a push and policy that doesn’t make practical sense. Many of it led by an unbelievable amount of federal dollars invested in emergency communications post 9/11 and radio vendors who specify complex systems. Some may think that I sound like a dinosaur who is fighting change and technology but I will give a few examples here that make no sense.

The migration up the spectrum

The fire service is basically abandoning the low band and VHF. Basic knowledge of the science of radio waves shows that these frequencies are vastly superior over long distances especially flat ones. Why abandon this spectrum? Even vendors have stopped making equipment. Rural areas of this country that fit this description would be best served using their limited funding continuing to buy inexpensive radios in this band. Low band is not being narrow banded by the way.

Leaving UHF for the fireground. Test after independent test show that UHF simplex analog communications are the best way to go for fireground tactical communications. Digital is not there yet, and I say yet acknowledging the progress that the radio vendors have made and the belief that in my life time that it will be reliable enough for fireground use.

I won't even touch interoperability here and some of the misguidedness in those efforts.

As for Westchester I would be weary especially if the current UHF system does not provided adequate coverage. Without the addition of additional towers 800 MHZ would probably have even more gaps.

SteveOFD, Bnechis and helicopper like this

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I had one of those in MV1 back in 1984...it worked just fine

You got the W.P. Amb 1 hand me down.

That orange box set up between the front seats of the ambulance, with just the antenna on the unit worked great with a 1 wtt. portable. I can't remember having any problems contacting W.P. or St. Agnes hospitals from anywhere in White Plains. From the lowest inside point of the Galleria to the pool at Saxon Woods we had coverage.

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You got the W.P. Amb 1 hand me down.

That orange box set up between the front seats of the ambulance, with just the antenna on the unit worked great with a 1 wtt. portable. I can't remember having any problems contacting W.P. or St. Agnes hospitals from anywhere in White Plains. From the lowest inside point of the Galleria to the pool at Saxon Woods we had coverage.

Typical MV. You are correct the coverage was great, except in the elevators in the MV projects. Got stuck in there one night and the PD portable would not tx out. so we tried that..no luck. The worst was when we went to press the elevator alarm button, it had been stolen..wires and all. Thats the last time I remember riding in the 5 story vertical urinals. lol

Edited by Bnechis
Firehawk11, helicopper and JM15 like this

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Typical MV. You are correct the coverage was great, except in the elevators in the MV projects. Got stuck in there one night and the PD portable would not tx out. so we tried that..no luck. The worst was when we went to press the elevator alarm button, it had been stolen..wires and all. Thats the last time I remember riding in the 5 story vertical urinals. lol

I loved when we had riders in the Vern who would ask, 'why are there drains in the elevator floor'??

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If it was good enough for Johnny and Roy, It's good enough for the rest of us !!!!!

10-4 Rampart.

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16fire5, I agree with you that we are part of the problem with each little agency (FD, PD, EMS, DPW, etc) insisting on having their own frequency. I posted a thread quite a while back where I listed all the frequencies licensed by Westchester County FD's (with no agency names listed, just frequencies). There were over fifty, if I recall correctly. The one point I wanted to make in that thread is, like you said, there are a limited amount of frequencies.

With narrowbanding, frequencies in the UHF band are separated by 0.0125MHz. What this means is if you start at 460.000MHz, the next available frequency is 460.0125MHz, after that is 460.0250MHz. With this spacing there are 80 available frequencies between 460.0000 & 461.0000MHz. Of these 80 available frequencies, only 40 are available for use in any given geographic area. The reasoning for this is that once a frequency is assigned (as an example, take 460.0125MHz) the frequencies immediately adjacent to it (460.000 & 460.0250MHz) immediately become unavailable in an attempt to not have these frequencies interfere with the licensed frequency (460.0125MHz).

With each little agency (whether it is PD, FD, EMS, DPW, etc.) insisting on having it's own "private" frequency, we are part of the problem.

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With each little agency (whether it is PD, FD, EMS, DPW, etc.) insisting on having it's own "private" frequency, we are part of the problem.

When we were told by the county that we needed our own system, because the proposed trunk system would not work in our area and it would not do what we needed for our operation, we went searching for a frequency and I was amazed that the city of NY was licenced for over 50 frequencies that were not in use and were reserved for future use. this made it very difficult to find a frequence. We were advised that the only one was beeing used by a small Long Island PD's detective division (with 3 or 4 detectives) and we would need their permission to work on the frequency. They said no.

So we found 50 with no one on them and 1 with 3 radios and none could be used.

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So, in all seriousness, does the possibility of transitioning - in the future - to an 800 mhz system make sense for the county? I guess the bigger question is wether or not anyone is highlighting to the powers that be how very insanely important a robust communications (mobile, portable and data) is?

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800 just sucks. Ask anyone in Florida what its like and it is useless. Has no penetration due to the lack of wattage, and if its digital it is even worse. I find it simply amazing that I can use a 5 watt portable radio on VHF hi band and with remote receive sites talk from northern Putnam to the middle of NJ, yet in putnam county they had to change the dispatching frequencies cause its 'too busy', yet every single boro in NYC utilizes the same frequency.

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800 just sucks. Ask anyone in Florida what its like and it is useless. Has no penetration due to the lack of wattage, and if its digital it is even worse. I find it simply amazing that I can use a 5 watt portable radio on VHF hi band and with remote receive sites talk from northern Putnam to the middle of NJ, yet in putnam county they had to change the dispatching frequencies cause its 'too busy', yet every single boro in NYC utilizes the same frequency.

I can't speak to Putnam, since its been a long time since I listened to them regularly, but in most places I've listened to the radio is only busy because of a lack of radio discipline. People assume that it would be easier to just buy a "better" (read: more expensive and complex) system than to properly train their personnel on how to use (or, more importantly, NOT use) the radio and then hold them accountable for their actions like we would any other piece of equipment.

Its not easier, the system 9 times out of 10 isn't "better," and you're just going to spend a ton of money on something you don't really need just because Motorola or whoever says they can fix your problem for you. If you're lucky. And that goes for Police, Fire and EMS, paid and volunteer. Its a universal problem. Too much talking, not enough communication.

What cracks me up are the departments that, during the past year or so, have developed (and enforced) strict social media policies for their members but haven't updated or enforced a radio communications SOP in years. Priorities.

As to my department and the narrowbanding, we got a FEMA grant citywide to replace every mobile and portable for narrowbanding, a huge nut of money, we'll see if it works. If not, I know our low-band portables still do.

Edited by SageVigiles

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The issue is that the Federal Gov't is taking away all the T-Band spectrum (470MHz - 512MHz), if I recall correctly in eight years. All of the frequencies for the County's UHF Trunked Sytem are in this band. The Fed's are taking this back to auction this specturm off to the highest bidder. In return Public Safety got exclusive use of the "D Block" of frequencies in the 700MHz band. Will post more later when I get back.

Are you sure about that? The entire NYPD is in that band and they're not going to rebuild their entire radio system from scratch. Are they?

That would be BILLIONS of dollars.

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As to my department and the narrowbanding, we got a FEMA grant citywide to replace every mobile and portable for narrowbanding, a huge nut of money, we'll see if it works. If not, I know our low-band portables still do.

More squandered grant money. No offense to you or your department but the narrowbanding issue has been coming for years and most departments simply built it into their long term plan and made it work. If they needed to buy new hardware they did it during the years we've known this was coming.

Instead of dealing with it, yours and many other departments ignored it and waited until it became a crisis and took federal dollars to fix it.

There are still departments trying to buy 2 channel portable handie-talkies for their 2 fireground frequencies instead of buying real radios that cost the same amount but can have all the interoperable frequencies and fireground frequencies put in them. More squandered opportunities.

Home rule just plain sucks because there's no standardization, no common practices or procedures, and a myriad of different radio systems, hardware, and protocols. It's just stupid that some departments refuse to align themselves with their neighbors because with their one or two calls a day they know better than everyone else.

res6cue likes this

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None taken, I have no say in how the 3 fire districts and PD run the communications, nor do I want any.

The funny part is our secondhand radios the volunteers bought from someone else are apparently easy to be converted to narrowband. I don't understand how or why that works, I'm not a radio buff, but apparently that makes life easier for us.

Edited by SageVigiles

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The funny part is our secondhand radios the volunteers bought from someone else are apparently easy to be converted to narrowband. I don't understand how or why that works, I'm not a radio buff, but apparently that makes life easier for us.

It's easy. Most radios manufactured post-1996 IIRC are narrow/wide band capable by software. One click per frequency makes the radio do either wide or narrow band. At least this is how I have done it with the Kenwood brand.

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