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Public Safety 800 MHz Radio System Roadmap & VHF/UHF Narrowbanding Assessment

March 29, 2011


A 9-1-1 Communications District (District) was seeking a comprehensive radio communications system and technology assessment to address system performance issues and meet forthcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulatory requirements. The District needed a roadmap developed to provide an upgrade path for 800 MHz wireless public safety communication infrastructure and to ensure compliance with VHF/UHF narrowbanding mandates. A multitude of agencies within the District anticipated upgrades to existing infrastructure due to the age of the equipment, FCC regulatory mandates, interoperability objectives and support for wireless data applications.


M S Benbow & Associates (MSB) was contracted to develop a radio system roadmap that included requirements of the Public Safety Stakeholders, provided a path to regulatory compliance and addressed the latest capabilities of Public Safety radio technology.

The first phase of the project included meeting with representatives from the District to discuss the state of the current networks, develop criteria for the new networks, and discuss the level of interoperability that the district wanted to achieve.  In addition to developing criteria for the new system, MSB conducted field surveys at the transmitter sites, dispatch locations and field substations.  Information also was gathered regarding electrical power and HVAC systems, communication towers and the communications facilities. Subscriber inventory data was analyzed to determine the impact of certain infrastructure alternatives to the fleet of mobile and portable units that are in use on the network.


MSB provided a comprehensive report which included an assessment of the current facility infrastructure, offered alternatives for migrating to a P25 Interoperable Communications network, analyzed alternatives for 800 MHz RF Coverage/system performance, provided system capacity recommendations and outlined recommendations to the District for the next phase of project development. In addition, MSB provided an assessment of the VHF/UHF infrastructure and subscriber units for their ability to meet the FCC’s narrowbanding mandate and provided RF propagation studies that show the implications to coverage based on narrowband analog and digital system deployments.


The District agencies have a roadmap for future communications infrastructure improvements. The roadmap provides a high-level cost/benefit analysis for the options presented and a basis for determination of the most beneficial upgrade path for the District’s 800 MHz infrastructure. The plan also provides key information for migration of the VHF/UHF infrastructure to meet FCC mandates prior to regulatory deadlines.