1. #1
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    Default What radio system do you use?

    My county is looking into upgrading the current radio system that is used by fire/EMS/law enforcement. They are looking into all options including using some type of trunking system. What does your agency use for dispatching? How do you feel it works for your agency?

    Ed

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    Have your county radio department take a long look at trunked systems, as they are not all the same.

    Our county has been working on an 800 system for many, many years. (To replace our low band system). Things are optomistic for it, but I will die of old age before I ever use it. Way to many problems (mostly vendor related). For the one township road crew using it so far, it's great.

    A nearby city spent millions on it for PD and fire. PD uses it, but it is almost useless for fire. Fire EMS uses it for daily ops, but that's it. Anytime anything big happens, it everyone back on high band.

    Make sure you talk with more that one consultant. Have them explain the benefits and downsides of 400, 500, 800, and 900, related to your county (mountains, valleys, large buildings, number of users, etc.)
    My opinions are my own, etc. Everything that Ozzy writes here, except spelled correctly.

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    There was talk of going to the 800mhz here but with the terrian in our area it wont be very effective.
    Right now the dispatch center uses Motorola Centracom, it works well for us.

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    "Motorola Centracom" is not a radio system. That is simply the model of the dispatcher's console.

    Do not let a salesman just tell you how wonderful something is and go with it. You really need ti sit down and think about what you need now and what you will need 15-20 years from now. You can't buy a new radio system every 3 years so you have to pick something that will last for a long time and have the expandability for future growth.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We just upgraded to the Motorola 900 mhz system for our city fire department. So far, it has done nothing they said it would do. We upgraded because units were talking over each other, and this was supposed to prevent that. With the new system, not only are they talking over each other, they talk over dispatch. Makes it interesting.

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    Default Re: What Radio System Do You Use

    We use a twenty channel 5 site simulcast Motorola 800 MHz trunked radio system. Although we have significant terrain issues, it performs well. One of the reasons that it works, is that we went with performance based specs, and conducted exhaustive acceptance tests at 1,100 + locations countywide. Does it work absolutely everywhere? No - no system does, but this testing helped to define the few problems spots that exist. All radio system frequencies and configurations have inherent plusses and minuses. Much of the problem with public safety electronics (radio, CAD, etc.) is that salesmen and engineers don't necessarily talk to each other, purchasers know less about the product than they do about other tools they use (we all know how far a 100 foot aerial will reach, but do we know how far a 100 watt radio will reach?), and the cost of complicated systems tempts municipalities to cut items that may be critical to performance. I'll go back to my aerial example. If you need a 100 foot stick, going to a 75 footer is going to work sometimes, but isn't going to reach every place you've got to go. It's the same with radios.

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    We had a Johnson 800 mhz analog system for the past 12 years and it was pathetic to say the least. We have recently upgraded to a Motorola digital 800 mhz system and so far everything has been working great.
    Lt Brian Willey
    FF/EMT/Hazmat Tech
    Cambridge Rescue Fire Company
    Cambridge, MD

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    In my com center we are currently starting to put our upgrade on line. Little by little (as depts get the money) agencies are going to our new mototola trunk type ii digital system 500 mhz. the way it sounds it will be a great system. On top of the new system thats coming in, we use a low band / high band and also ultra high. Be nice to get everyone on the same page, but for now this is what we deal with.

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    Ed, I see you're in Wisconsin. If you're looking at trunked radio, keep in mind that Nextel is paying to migrate emergency services with 800 Mhz trunked radio to 700 Mhz trunked, and WI is one of the first states where this will be happening.

    That said, La Crosse has been using Motorola 800 Mhz trunked for quite a few years for all City departments. It is possible for us in Dispatch to speak to any city department by radio, and there is a common "call-up" channel to enable any department to call any other. It has some limitations, notably calling from inside large buildings, but has been generally good.

    We cannot use trunked radio in our county because of the terrain, but shortly after the City went to trunked, the County upgraded its system.

    It's also important to keep in mind the requirements of "narrow banding," which will affect the kinds of radios available to you over the next few years. The FCC has set a date by which all radio systems will have to go to narrow band, but I don't recall if it's 2009 or 2011 or what.

    To repeat others, make sure you get info from several vendors, and do everything you can to have sales claims backed up by facts from the engineers. Then check with their existing customers for the realities of day-to-day operations, and, if you can, make some site visits.

    Good luck.

    Joe
    Joe O'Keefe

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    It's 2011. And low banding is the only way to go. 800mhz has more problems then Carter has liver pills. If your agency can get it to work good, congrats.

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    Don't you mean high band?

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    800Mhz doesn't have problems. It's the system design that has problems, usually since no one wants to spend enough money to do it properly the first time.

    Those who do build a system properly are usually satisfied.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Originally posted by bummer
    Don't you mean high band?
    No. Low band.

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    City went to 800 Mhz.Trunked APCO System Motorola Radios. Nothing but problems. The Radio system fails time and time again. There is no Back Up like when we had the 154mhz and Police 453Mhz. Just last night the Radios failed again. This time it was for only 10 minutes. At other times Dispatchers had to use Telephones to call Companies and dispatch them. One incident it was half a daay, Verizon had disconnected some cables and no one was able to get into the Building to fix it. INVESTIGATE before comitting to any Radio System. I favored the 700 Mhz system, but what do Dispatchers know about Radios?

    They did not bother to even ask for suggestions from us.

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