Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blount 911 bans radio scanners, no rescue radios allowed on Dragon after $4M tax increase

"It has been estimated that Narrowband compliance can result in a 3 dB loss in signal strength. Licensees can operate in either analog or digital formats as long as they operate at 12.5 kHz efficiency.", VHF/UHF Narrowbanding FAQs

"Wideband (25KHz splits) to narrowband (12.5 KHz splits) mandatory by Jan 1 2013. Then to 6.25KHz splits sometime in the future (already being worked on) Some scanners are tunable to frequency splits, others not. If you have older scanner you will still be able to hear a narrow band transmission dead center on a frequency, but it may be scratchy. The center frequency does not change, thus you do not need to reprogram the actual frequency, as long as the AAR channels don't change. That said, when new channels are added at 12.5Khz spacing in-between the old 25Khz spacing, you will need to reprogram your radio to receive those new frequencies."

"After having lost $4.3 billion from 2007 to 2009, Google CEO Larry Page announced that Google closed on its deal to acquire Motorola Mobility. In August 2011, Google announced that it will purchase Motorola Mobility for about $12.5 billion."

"The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Motorola Solutions on suspicion of bribery, The Wall Street Journal reported."
-BGR Media

Blount gets new emergency radio system

By Iva Butler
Maryville Daily Times

The county and cities are just days away from converting to a new digital emergency radio system.

The system will piggyback on the $26 million Tennessee Valley Corridor System that serves the I-75 corridor from Knoxville to Chattanooga.

The system is set to go online the week of July 16. “It has been a long journey to update the system,” said Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp. ”We have been using the same technology since before 1973.”

The change is basically being federally mandated. “We have known for the last decade that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) was going to require everybody to be on a narrow band on Jan. 1, 2013,” Crisp said.

The current bandwidth of 25 KHZ is being switched to 12.5 KHZ.

“Equipment manufactured prior to 1997 will not be compatible with the narrow banding,” Crisp said.

The valley corridor system links Hamilton, Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Rhea, Roane, Anderson, Loudon and Knox counties and now Blount County. In Georgia, Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties joined the partnership.

The new system will allow departments to communicate directly with one another without having to be patched in through 911 dispatchers.

“It will help us in a lot of ways,” said Blount Emergency 911 Director Jeff Caylor. “We can streamline paging efforts on some calls that both Maryville and Alcoa both run on, such as structure fires.

“We will be able to do it with the punch of a button. With the old system we have to patchwork the log,” Caylor said. “This will save a lot of time for the dispatchers.”

The system employs 20 dispatchers.

Each agency will have its own frequency, and multiple talk groups can use another frequency. In case of an emergency event, such as a hostage situation, all traffic concerning that incident can be moved to one frequency.

Fixes dead spots

The current radio system has dead spots in the county, including the two cities, where radio communication is not possible. Tests have been conducted at 1,900 different spots countywide and officials experienced difficulties with the new system in only four places, Crisp said.

Total cost of the system is $4.4 million. “We are blessed that Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County have worked very hard to get various grants,” Crisp said.

The $1.4 million in grants and contributions from other agencies cut the cost down to $3 million. This will be paid for through a lease/purchase agreement with the cities and county over 10 years.

Agencies using the system will be Alcoa and Maryville police and fire, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Townsend Police Department and Maryville College.

Blount County will pay $164,505, Maryville will pay $113,133 and Alcoa $92,544.

Three local towers

The new systems will operate locally on towers at Broadway Towers in Maryville, Look Rock off Foothills Parkway and Fox Hollow Road in Townsend.

“Our three sites will tie right in with the valley system,” Crisp said.

Blount County could also use system towers in Centerville in Loudon County and Greentop Mountain in Sevier County, Crisp said.

“This system would be so much more flexible and reception would be so much greater. A Maryville captain could talk directly with a Knox County or city detective,” he said.

Digital divide: Emergency services radios being switched, scanners must be upgraded for new signal

February 09, 2012
The Winchester Sun

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Scanner enthusiasts listening in on police and fire department dispatches may be hit with silence in the coming months — unless they’ve upgraded to digital — because of a Federal Communications Commission mandate.

Under the Narrowband Compliance Act, by Jan. 1, 2013, all public safety radio systems must cut their bandwidth in half, according to the FCC website, and agencies not in compliance could lose their radio licenses. It is an effort to free up additional bandwidth space to give public safety users more access which began almost 20 years ago.

Because of the effects of narrowband, first responders are working to switch to digital radios.

Narrowband decreases audio by 50 percent, making it harder to hear what comes over the radio, said Winchester Fire-EMS Lt. Bryan Howard, whose extra duties include helping with the radio system.

Because of this, all local first responders — the Winchester Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Clark County Fire and Winchester Fire-EMS — will convert from analog to digital radios to make up for loss in audio.

“It (narrowband) reduces the audio that you actually hear out of the speaker; it’s not as loud because the frequencies are so narrow,” he said. “So everybody’s wanting to go ahead and just go digital. That way, they can get that audio part back.”

Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer said local first responders have been preparing for the changes since late 2009.

“There’s only so many frequencies in the air for radios to be on, and with the addition of wireless technologies, it’s getting crowded up there in the airways,” Palmer said. “So they’re moving emergency services to a narrower band. It’s like turning the channel.”

The digital radios also are compliant with Project 25, or P25, a federal, state and local effort to move public safety users to the same radio system. Any P25 device can communicate with another.

P25-compliant devices can also communicate with analog radios to help agencies during the transition from analog to completely digital.

Palmer said the police department wrote the grant for radio equipment for all the local first responder departments, and has been providing each with digital radios as the equipment arrives. Every department won’t be completely digital by the time they’re required to go narrowband, but dispatch will have the capability to talk to both digital and analog radios, he said.

The new infrastructure needed to communicate with P25 devices is being funded through grants from the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, said Clark County CSEPP Director Gary Epperson.

Most of the grant funding for the new equipment locally is coming from the Bluegrass Area Development District and theU.S. Department of Homeland Security, Epperson said.

A benefit of the digital radios, Palmer said, is that officers and deputies will have better reception in more rural areas and will have encryption capabilities if necessary.

“A third option that will help us in digital, is we will be able to identify the officer as soon as he keys up the mic and locate him, even if he doesn’t speak to us,” Palmer said.

Palmer said communication between first responders will still be in a public domain.

“This is meaning nothing to the public, until you say the word ‘scanner.’ The police department is not against scanners, because sometimes it’s helpful that our radio traffic is in a public domain,” he said. “It will still be in a public domain, except they will have to have the capabilities to receive our digital signal.”

See also:

Tennessee Scanner Frequencies

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