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Thread: VHF Digital P25

  1. #21
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    Default FCC Narrow band and P25 Digital explained

    I am a new user to your site and have been in the public safety business over 37 years and can help with some of your questions/answers.

    First off, the FCC rules on Narrow Band (12.5 khz) IS required by 2013, however, due to the present economy I doubt that it will happen and there is already a movement to get it extended and pending at the FCC.
    Even if it does take effect, all you will have to do is change your FCC license Emission designator to 12.5khz and that is just a paper work issue and really inexpensive.
    Next you will have to re-program your radios from 25 khz to 12.5 khz on each of your channels that you are licensed on and any channels that you are using for mutual aid (your mutual aid buddies will have to do the same). What this does is change the narrow band tuning of the radio so that you dont hear the 25 khz traffic from others who have not changed. If you dont change and the others do then you will hear any radio traffic that is any where in the 12.5khz area above or below your channel and it will be a mess to listen to.
    So to recap, this is really a small issue since most departments have been buying radios from manufacturers who have been making this type of radio for over 6 years or more, you just dont know it. Just have your local radio shop do the programming or buy the software and cables and do it yourself. Its easy to do and I have done it several times in my county.

    As far as the P25 Digital requirement, there is NO Requirement for States, Cities, or Counties....only the Federal Govt agencies, and there will probably never be one since it is not any where close to being on the FCC's radar.
    Analog radios still have an edge over the Digital as well for range and a few other things like audio quality and sensitivity. Using digital decrease your radio coverage and you must make it up by adding more repeaters or receivers....real expensive.
    There is no reason to go to digital unless you want a county-wide or state-wide trunking radio system. At this point you are starting a JPA and starting to apply for grants and raise money to fun $30-50 million just to start, along with years of planning, installations, mountain top site work, law suits from the Green keeper etc.

    If you have a requirement to be able to talk with Federal Forestry departments or other Federal agencies who may or may not be on Digital in your area, you simply have them put your mutual aid channel into their radio and have there radio tech program that one channel for 12.5 khz analog operation. (All P25 digital radios are programmable for analog or digital by channel as required by the FCC/APCO P25 rules.)

    Stay analog and enjoy yourself. If you need a better radio system to get better coverage that is easy in analog and much less costly than Digital. The equipment it inexpensive, available and reliable.

    If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. You may respond to this post or my email is n8972@williamscom.com


  2. #22
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    It is worth pointing out that not all radios can simply be reprogrammed to narrow band. A lot of older radios that may still be in use today are not capable of it and will need to be replaced.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    It is worth pointing out that not all radios can simply be reprogrammed to narrow band. A lot of older radios that may still be in use today are not capable of it and will need to be replaced.
    Yes it is..

    Replace your radios (that will not do NB) and be compliant for the switch when it comes and it will come.

    It will be 2017 before the "NEW" standard will even be talked about. I guarantee it won't be any current product.

    Spending millions of dollars for P25, or any other type of communications that isn't Analog Narrow Band is just throwing money in the wind. Because EVERYTHING is going to change in the next few years.

  4. #24
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    And I really don't think the FCC is going to delay the 2013 deadline. There have been too many delays so far.

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    This whole P25 thing is killing me. All grant money has to be spent on P25 equipment but since the radios cost 4 times the price of a similar analog narrowband radio it is impossible for most agencies to use the grant money effectively.

    What ****es me off the most is the grants from DHS are for interop and P25 is so freakin far away that the radio I purchase today will be obsolete by the time I need to go to 6.25 digital. P25 has nothing to do with interop.

    Did you ever wonder how DHS got it into their little heads that P25 would be the requirment for all grant purchases. Perhaps from the manufacturers of the radio equipment!

    I am just frustrated because the grant money we get is about enough to configure 1/3 the fleet over using P25 equipment and we have to come up with the rest. To avoid having a mix of radio types we are having to purchase one style of radio with general fund money and grant money for P25 only.

    Our solution was to purchase narrow band portables using city general fund money and grant money for our mobile radios which will be P25. The grant money was enough to offset the mobile purchase so we could afford it. For portables the grant money offset was not enough to go all P25.

    We were not going to have a mix of radio types in the dept. One HT and one moblie.

    This is another great example of beauracracy run-a-muck

  6. #26
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    DHS is not requiring P25. Some states do, and because of that DFS makes you match that state requirement. What state are you in?

    With a VHF P25 radio going for just under a grand now, the prices have gotten better, just not good enough.

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    Correct me if I am wrong but the PSIC grant did not make a state go P25. It was up to the states to determne allocation of money and make determining factors.

    However it has been my expereinece with SAFECOMM/DHS that P25 was what they were requiring. I cut out the part of the grant below. We are in CA and got denied grant money for non-p25 portable radios even though they were narrowband and that digital isnt required until 2018.

    "Funding requests by agencies to replace or add radio equipment to an existing
    non-P25 system (such as procuring new portables for an existing analog system) will be
    considered if there is an explanation for how the radio selection will improve interoperability
    or support eventual migration to interoperable systems. Absent these compelling reasons,
    SAFECOM intends that P25 equipment will be preferred for LMR systems to which the
    standard applies."

  8. #28
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    The word is prefered, not required. It is all in justification and planning. If you can show that P25 is not in use anywhere near you and never will be in the forseeable future, document that. You need to well document what you want, why you want it, and why it is the absolute best design and most effeiciant way to spend the money. If you aren't requesting P25, then explain WHY you aren't and why it is actually beneficial to NOT get it. Also include how this fits in with your state's communication plan as this is a major factor in decision making.

    You are absolutely right that conventional (non-trunking) and non-encrypted use of P25 digital is moronic. Make your case for such and see what happens.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We did make our case on those exact things you mentioned and got shot down. We did end up getting the grant money but had to change what we were going to purchase. We ended up purchasing mobile radios that were P25. We didn't buy the radio because its P25 we actually like the radio and it happens to be P25. We ended up getting the TK-5710 which is the big brother to the Tk-790. We already had a few Tk-5710's and the grant money was enough to convert the whole fleet. Why does Safecomm/DHS even give a crap if its P25. P25 does not = interoperability. I am so tired of hearing that. P25 means nothing at this point except more money for the comm industry.

  10. #30
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    Actually it means the opposite of interoperability since it totally inhibits everyone else from communicating with you. I'll never understand the concept. It was clearly thought up by someone who doesn't actually use it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  11. #31
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    Project 25 Is not a "standard" in this current communications market.
    Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International (APCO).. Their brilliant idea was that P25 would take over the world.

    It won't.. It's just too damn expensive for agencies to switch to. The FCC Mandated states that 2013, all public safety is to be Narrow-band. Beyond that, there has been no direction for radio specs, or a "type" of radio or even a format.

    Will the format be Project 25? doubt it. I'm guessing that the current technology will be pushing a new radio format soon!.... All the manufacturers are scrambling to push their own version of digital and still provide analog operations. Kenwood has NXDN, Motorola has MOTOTURBO, Icom has IDAS etc.. etc..

    Best system I have seen is the NXDN 6.25kHz Trunking system. Mototurbo is 6.25 equivalent... blah.. and Icom should have trunking soon.

    Prices for current 6.25kHz digital equipment? Half the cost of P25 Stuff and a 1/4 the cost of any Motorola stuff.

    P25 Equipment pricing? Not really that bad if you're using Kenwood 5210/5710 equipment or even Icom F70D/F1721D stuff. Motorola P25 is O...M...G!!! expensive.

    Currently I have most Icom stuff up to 25% off standard price. www.talktwoway.net Not bad stuff, but if you're interested in any Kenwood equipment, contact your local Kenwood dealer. If you're a member of the WSCA, you can get up to 37% discount also.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    Actually it means the opposite of interoperability since it totally inhibits everyone else from communicating with you. I'll never understand the concept. It was clearly thought up by someone who doesn't actually use it.
    What they mean by interoperability is, the mobile or portable can receive and transmit in a dual mode configuration.

    You can set a digital channel up to receive digital and analog and transmit analog, or receive digital and analog and transmit digital.

    It's all in the programming. If the programmer sets up zones and banks correctly you can work with agencies using both P25 and Analog Narrow-Band systems.

  13. #33
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    No you can't. Only that agency with the digital radios can do both. All the other agencies with non-digital radios will not be able to hear a word the digital department says. Mutual becomes pretty difficult when you have no communications. Changing to a different channel that is analog when you need to invite mutual aid in is ridiculous.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  14. #34
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    RadiomanWA,

    I went to the WSCA website. Can CA local gov purchase kenwood radios through that agreement? Any inof on the process would be great. I have an email into them but anything you can think of would be nice.

    AJ

  15. #35
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    Analog only users will need something like this... http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/acu_m/

    There are other models that can handle larger operations, but this one is a mobile type unit. You can connect 4 different types of radios or whatever..

    So, analog VHF <> P25 VHF. All you need to do is purchase 1-2 VHF P25 Radios and you can multi cast that over Analog. Working on tactical channels on scene usually only consist of 1-2 channels. As long as you know your surroundings (P25 info) you can pre-program the P25 radios for each mutual aid situation.

    Why purchase all new P25 Radio when you can add one of these to a vehicle that can be put on scene and relay all P25 digital conversations over Analog radios.

    PM me if you need something like this or interested in any documentation or pricing.
    Last edited by RadiomanWA; 06-10-2009 at 02:18 PM.

  16. #36
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    Or you can just leave everything analog and not need any of that crap. Analog conventional is interoperable with everyone, everywhere, every brand, without any special equipment. There is nothing you can say or offer that changes this. Making a channel into digital conventional INHIBITS interoperability with everyone else and drives up the cost of all the equipment. Benefits gains, none.

    I'm well aware of the ACU and other similar products. They have their place, this should not be one of them.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    Or you can just leave everything analog and not need any of that crap. Analog conventional is interoperable with everyone, everywhere, every brand, without any special equipment. There is nothing you can say or offer that changes this. Making a channel into digital conventional INHIBITS interoperability with everyone else and drives up the cost of all the equipment. Benefits gains, none.

    I'm well aware of the ACU and other similar products. They have their place, this should not be one of them.
    It's too late to leave everything alone. The larger fire departments and Police Departments are convinced (in my area) that they need P25 Radios. I can talk till I'm blue in the face about what they should do, or recommend, but to no avail. Now that the larger districts have P25 Radios, a lot of the smaller districts do not. Some of the districts just cannot replace 20 radios that in Analog world would cost them $11,000, but under P25 compliance would run them $40,000 minimum. That’s assuming they use something other than Motorola, otherwise just tack on about $20,000 more.

    I agree with your assessment on interoperability. Until 2017-18 I myself would not take any drastic measures to my radio system other then Narrow-Band, see where the market is at that time, following any regulations or mandates by the FCC then base my decision on that.

    But until then, districts that are unable to afford P25 Radios DO have options! Purchase 1-2 P25 Mobiles and an item similar to the JPS stuff and provide communications between themselves and districts or departments that have already made the move to P25. Simplex Tactical channels for onsite co-op fire is fairly straight forward.

    If all the districts in your area haven’t moved to P25 nor have any digital units, this whole issue is just hot air. Otherwise, the small guy needs options. There are options.
    Last edited by RadiomanWA; 06-10-2009 at 06:50 PM.

  18. #38
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    We were forced to deal with the same issues when some, not all of our districts moved to the 800MHz Trunking system and left the smaller districts with analog conventional systems behind.

    We provided interoperability for those people as well...

    Now that the 800 Mhz is gone in our area, everything has changed.


    But guess who is still operational...???? Analog VHF Conventional radios. So they had to reprogram to Narrow-Band. Big deal. Sick to see how much money can be thrown at systems and design to have them come right back to Analog VHF after a few years.

  19. #39
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    Trying to work with a neighbor that is trunked is a totally different world, I agree. I'm really talking about some dumb@ss police chief that thinks he is cool by making his department conventional digital. Waste of money and effectively turns them into an island.

    An ACU is a temporary solution to a permanent problem and it only works when someone brings it with them and turns it on and everyone switches to the patch channel. My point is, we shouldn't even have to do this. Unfortunately, as you said, some people are too dense to grasp the concept.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  20. #40
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    Only thing to gain by going Digital Conventional is privacy, providing you're using AES or DES encryption. Other then that, a total waste of time and money.

    There are places and applications for digital with encryption, like government projects or nuclear applications.

    Only good thing about being conventional regardless of digital or analog, is the delay in X-Repeaters don't have to be as long as Trunking or Repeater configurations.

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