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  1. #1
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    Default narrowband-ready?

    What have you done so far to make sure you are narrowband-ready? I understand that most radios and pagers that have been sold in the last five years are narrowband-ready but what about the base stations and repeaters?
    Last edited by koechler; 03-11-2011 at 05:17 AM. Reason: typo


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    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    We're on VHF-Low on a county basis, so we don't have to do anything.

    Our paging is done on VHF-High, and it's all reasonably new equipment, so it's an easy fix to cut it over. In fact, we're changing the frequency soon (license issues) and will probably make the change then.

    Several departments have their own VHF-High or UHF in-house systems - they may or may not be ready...
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    I just finished my regional radio project for our entire county's emergency responders in order to meet the narrowbanding requirements for January 1st 2013. Whew! Made an application through the AFG grant program.

    I am not an comm expert, but there are a lot of them in the funding and grants section here on the forums.

    However, as I understand it, low band within VHF is what they are trying to eliminate for emergency responders. Equipment is supposed to be narrowband and that begins in the UHF 400's. I think the pagers are allowed to be VHF, but I am spitting in the wind because I am getting deeper into other areas that automatically drop your IQ by 30 points.

    One thing I do know, all volunteer departments need to check what they are using with their emergency mangement center or with a radio communications vendor, to find out if they are compliant. The window of federal funding support is closing quickly. Entitlements are going to be non existent for the years 2012 and 2013 and likely much longer. The AFG program ends in 2012. The FCC is not going to extend the narrowbanding requirements as it already has done it once to give communities and departments their last opportunity to comply. Otherwise, your equipment will no longer be able to be used.

    The point it, find out now and start making plans before it is too late.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jam24u View Post
    However, as I understand it, low band within VHF is what they are trying to eliminate for emergency responders.
    Trust me, we'd love to be off it.
    Equipment is supposed to be narrowband and that begins in the UHF 400's.
    The mandate includes VHF-High (150-170MHz, more or less) as well, which will catch a lot of people.
    I think the pagers are allowed to be VHF...
    Several established paging frequencies are exempted. If you are paging on a fire or similar emergency services frequency, you've got to comply
    The point it, find out now and start making plans before it is too late.
    I think I've heard there will be no exemptions...

    One thing this will do for us is free up some much needed bandwidth, allowing departments in crowded markets to have more frequencies if needed.

    For example, the railroads, which have almost 100 frequencies in the 160 and 161 MHz band, will double their available channels.

    This has been in the works for a while, so while it may be a surprise at the lowest levels, I would hope the the operators of major systems are already at work getting ready for it to happen.
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    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    one of the biggest problems I see occurring is that many folks haven't filed a license modification request with the FCC yet. The frequency co-ordinators will get inundated at the last 12 months and the push will be on to get everyones paperwork through the system. I started the process for our two licensed freqs two years ago and it took approx 4 months then.
    Imagine what will happen next year when folks realize the deadline is approaching.

    Some places have been waiting to purchase new equipment in the hopes that federal money would come flowing down the pipeline and personally I don't see it happening.
    What funding that has been available has been used by the states for their infrastructure and backbone systems.

    As far as our radio equipment, we have been working on that for several years also. AFG grant for portables, mobiles and new voted receiver/ repeater system.
    local county/state grant for the 4.9 ghz microwave links to tie it together.

    We will be ready to make the swap over in the next couple of months. Just waiting on one department to purchase a few more mobiles and pagers this years budget cycle.
    We will then have the radio shop come down on a saturday and reprogram everything to narrowband.

    Times running short to get the job done.
    Better have a plan in place now.

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    Will you have to replace the repeaters, just replace some parts or do you just have to reprogram them to be narrowband-ready? Some people say that all the repeaters that have been sold in the last 10 years just have to be reprogrammed, others say that is not true. What is the case for your radio system?

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    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koechler View Post
    Will you have to replace the repeaters, just replace some parts or do you just have to reprogram them to be narrowband-ready? Some people say that all the repeaters that have been sold in the last 10 years just have to be reprogrammed, others say that is not true. What is the case for your radio system?
    Our repeaters are suitable for just reprogramming as are all our new radios. We are currently running wide band VHF analog and will at some time in the future spend a day with the radio techs reprogramming all gear to the narrow band freq. Takes about 4 minutes per radio. We figure they can do all three departments mobiles[20 units] & portables
    [150 units] along with the 3 repeaters in the course of one day. It will take three techs with laptops.
    The three departments have been replacing radios for three years to get rid of all the older non narrowband capable equipment.

    Our FCC licenses are already approved and in my hand.

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    I'll be very honest here as I really have very little involvement wit the communication side of wither my combo (career gig) or volunteer departments, but I know that both departments have filed new license applications and are working on the issue.

    I suspect my volunteer department could have much more of a problem as the communications budget is much tighter with little funds for the purchase of new radios. This could create some major problems for us.

    On the combo side, we are working to transition to 700 band operations. The state operates a statewide 700 system so the issue of towers and repeaters are not an issue. We have licensed 2 700 frequencies and have installed mobiles in the command vehicles and operational vehicles that are likely to deploy statewide, and have purchased enough portables for the Chief officers, duty captains and have a few for working crews.

    All 3 of our most likely MA departments also have frequencies with all 3 having limited 700 capabilities, primarily at the command and limited company level.

    The parish is also making limited funds available for additional purchases.

    While we are a long way from switching completely, we now have the ability to perform mutual aid command level communications and command-level scene management functions with 3 of our most likely mutual aid departments on 700 while we conduct crew level operations on our 156.xxx.

    We likely will write a communications grant for next year's FireAct to assist with the transition.

    The parish where I volunteer has a very limited 700 capability which quite frankly, has never worked very well and most if not all of the (few) 700 portables sit on shelves at the parish fire stations gathering dust.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    MembersZone Subscriber LVFD301's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koechler View Post
    Will you have to replace the repeaters, just replace some parts or do you just have to reprogram them to be narrowband-ready? Some people say that all the repeaters that have been sold in the last 10 years just have to be reprogrammed, others say that is not true. What is the case for your radio system?
    Anything bought new in the past 10 years should only require re-programming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    one of the biggest problems I see occurring is that many folks haven't filed a license modification request with the FCC yet. The frequency co-ordinators will get inundated at the last 12 months and the push will be on to get everyones paperwork through the system. I started the process for our two licensed freqs two years ago and it took approx 4 months then.
    Imagine what will happen next year when folks realize the deadline is approaching.
    w.

    Anything just requiring the emission mask change, ie, wideband to narrow, does not require a coordinator. Any frequency change however, does, and yes should have been started a while ago.

    Luckily 90 percent of people will only need the emission change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Trust me, we'd love to be off it.The mandate includes VHF-High (150-170MHz, more or less) as well, which will catch a lot of people.Several established paging frequencies are exempted. If you are paging on a fire or similar emergency services frequency, you've got to comply
    I think I've heard there will be no exemptions...

    .
    Now is the time to get off lowband if you want to - AFG grants is considering communications to be a priority.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jam24u View Post

    However, as I understand it, low band within VHF is what they are trying to eliminate for emergency responders. .

    Most of the rest has already been hit on, but the only people trying to eliminate low band for first responders is the radio companies.

    Low band is still a very effective tool for some agencies.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    Now is the time to get off lowband if you want to - AFG grants is considering communications to be a priority.
    We're talking a fairly massive program - beyond the scope of an AFG grant.

    Forty-four volunteer fire departments, one city fire department, a city police agency, a sheriff's department, and probably the state police (as well as other city and county agencies) would be encompassed by the ideal solution, which would be trunked.

    Figuring an average of 10 mobile and 10 handheld radios per fire department, that's upwards of $60-70,000 per department for new radios. While we've implemented VHF-High paging, some departments are still using the low band frequency (they are simulcast).

    Guestimates for a new system run upwards of $20 Million.

    Trust me - we're trying to move forward.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    We're talking a fairly massive program - beyond the scope of an AFG grant.

    Forty-four volunteer fire departments, one city fire department, a city police agency, a sheriff's department, and probably the state police (as well as other city and county agencies) would be encompassed by the ideal solution, which would be trunked.

    Figuring an average of 10 mobile and 10 handheld radios per fire department, that's upwards of $60-70,000 per department for new radios. While we've implemented VHF-High paging, some departments are still using the low band frequency (they are simulcast).

    Guestimates for a new system run upwards of $20 Million.

    Trust me - we're trying to move forward.
    I can only guess that at that radio price someone has been looking at P25 trunked. There are more economical solutions however - probably half that price for P25 trunked. Or you can go narrowband VHF with a migration path.

    It was a step back when the NY statewide system failed, and I don't foresee the state trying that again anytime in the next century.

    I suspect that 20 mill is a bit high also, but you are right - it will take more than a mill or two. AFG would only be a part of the solution.

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    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    I can only guess that at that radio price someone has been looking at P25 trunked. There are more economical solutions however - probably half that price for P25 trunked. Or you can go narrowband VHF with a migration path.
    Exactly - and that's actually going lower than the prices I know were paid for a federal system.

    There are lower cost alternatives - and they are being looked at. Our paging system (VHF-High) is being licensed as a repeater system, not just paging, so we could turn that around and make it a repeated dispatch channel.

    But we'd still need another five channels just to put us where we are right now, and it'd be nice if at least one of those five channels were repeated as well. Since we're on the Canadian border, acquiring those frequencies is just that much more of an issue.

    On top of that, all of the other agencies have shortcomings in their systems as well.

    And, our neighboring counties to the south are putting in P25 systems. That would make inter-county interop just a step or two easier.

    Considering all of the players involved, some sort of trunked system would be the best solution, and P25 is the flavor of the day.

    A bright spot - since we're on the border, there could be Homeland Security dollars available for a consortium of the counties along the border.
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    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    Anything just requiring the emission mask change, ie, wideband to narrow, does not require a coordinator. Any frequency change however, does, and yes should have been started a while ago.

    Luckily 90 percent of people will only need the emission change.
    Correct: Our license change had to go through the freq.co-ordinator as we were moving our primary transmitter site to a newly installed tower, Going from a 80' tower on one island to a new 300 ft tower 4 miles north on another island.

    We've always had some overlap with distant departments due to the radio waves traveling over the water. Some departments 100 miles away hear our traffic better than our dispatch center.

    When the weathers right in the springtime we get Orange NJ skipping in across the atlantic better than we can hear our dispatch center 40 miles away.
    Hopefully our new voted receiver sites with a microwave back haul will eliminate some of these problems for us. Certainly has improved the effects of storm interference.
    Our weakest problem has been the county system that was a low bid project which has had some issues.

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    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=tree68;1255641l.

    A bright spot - since we're on the border, there could be Homeland Security dollars available for a consortium of the counties along the border.[/QUOTE]

    Tree : we were able to get some funding for our project from homeland security as we have the shipping lanes for a major port facility just offshore. We work with port security group on occasion and they funded some of the new equipment through a grant. The coast guard does their inbound vessel inspections as they pass by our islands and wanted the ability to use our com systems infrastructure if needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Figuring an average of 10 mobile and 10 handheld radios per fire department, that's upwards of $60-70,000 per department for new radios. While we've implemented VHF-High paging, some departments are still using the low band frequency (they are simulcast).
    Are you going to keep the VHF frequency for paging only? Are you using analog or digital POCSAG/Flex?

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koechler View Post
    Are you going to keep the VHF frequency for paging only? Are you using analog or digital POCSAG/Flex?
    There's a lot of "what if" still floating around that - it'll depend on which way we end up going, ie, trunked or VHF-High repeated.

    Our paging is currently analog, two-tone sequential for the most part. The only digital is the secondary notification via cell phone texts. Given that most everyone who uses the texting (direct from dispatch is only the chiefs, but we use Google and Yahoo groups, among others, to spread the info to any member who wants it), changing over to a pure text notification might be better received than it would have been a few years ago. A lot of people like to be able to monitor what's going on with their neighbors (and the rest of the county).

    Island - We have the St Lawrence Seaway for a "neighbor." I'm sure we have many of the same venues you have for funding. We are currently working on/with a multi-county consortium so we can work the issues (and solutions) together.
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    i personally hate narrow band doesnt work for crap in my area we are lucky if we can hear anyone else that is responding due to interference from mountians and what not in our area
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