Transcript: Migration

P25 Phase II Roundtable Theme 3, recorded in Scottsdale, AZ, USA. October 19, 2011

The P25 Phase II Roundtable was a moderated open discussion. Several themes reoccurred through the day.

This transcript pulls together the phases of the discussion that centered on the theme “Migration”.

Watch the video | Download the transcript (440 KB PDF)

 

Moderator: There is one aspect of this: a clear migration story. Obviously, the issue of the dates, the difficulty, the complexity, and the cost is tied up with clarity over migration from wherever you are right now, to Phase 2 - if that is a technology that is going to be the most future proof or will provide the most advantages long-term.  Is that there?

Member: I think it is fair to say you have to have a migration path.  What migration path is or what it is is probably to everyone's own definition.  So I think you have to have a migration path, and you have to recognize, we don't float in this boat alone.  I wish we did.  I wish we could say, this is what you clowns will provide, if you guys could do it.  But that isn't the case.  They do, they build, they sell what the majority of us want, not what Craig Jorgenson wants.  That is the thing that makes this whole process difficult: is we have to find common ground, ergo why we need to have a cooperative effort with all of us in it.  We have to find the common ground that satisfies “I don't want to be stuck with an unfunded mandate on 2013” and yet satisfies the need to migrate technology and, more importantly, innovation in the process.  And I think that is what we need to focus on here today.  How do we do that in a way that will satisfy all of these different and competing environments?  And they are competing.  Sometimes they are not even close to each other.  My opinion.

Moderator: Any comment from the people who actually have to put this in place? 

Member: Well, Craig says, I'm thinking: I see police departments put a vehicle into service, and three weeks later crash and replace it. Yet they still have radios that were made in 1985 on the street and they can't find money to replace them.  It is a perplexity. 

Member: It reminds me of - I think it was Henry Ford when he came out with the Model A.  “You can have any color you want as long as it is black.”

The problem we have is that the systems that they are using now work.  If they don't see a problem with it, it is not effective.  As a patrol officer, I mentioned this last night in a conversation, we had quarterly firearms training. And, yet, when I started as a patrolman, I was handed a portable.  They said, “this is for us to get a hold of you”, and that is it.  So there is - there is more time focused on certain aspects of the public safety end of things.  And communications have always been there.  It has been: LMR is reliable, so they are used to it. 

When you go back to the study of the old going from the call boxes to, you know, the whistles that officers carry to contact each other in communications.  And the unfortunate thing is, on some occasions, you have to go back to that.  And it is not in the forefront of their concern. 

Member: Stick it in the toolbox.

Member: The most expensive tool in the toolbox.

Member: To that point, there is a market elasticity.  That is a hardcore reality right now that some of the industry is trying to wrestle with, and I don't know what the answer is.  But you are going to see other technologies come in, and, although they might not be near as good, and they may not be able to do everything that they should do. However, if they are strapped, they are going to have to get by with that Volkswagen Beetle as opposed to that Crown Vic, okay, because it is just a cold reality. 

And that is what I was saying earlier, that what platform do we build on in order to get to that market elasticity, where it is readily available for the majority of the marketplace?  Because right now, P25 Phase I or Phase II: only about 30% of the marketplace can do it without leveling special taxes or going to the federal government and getting grants.

 

At this point the roundtable discussion went onto another topic for a time. The conversation then returned to “Migration” as follows:

 

Member: The P25 doesn't meet all of the needs of public safety.

Member: That is right.  That is true.

Member: The fire departments especially are using pagers for your rural fire departments.  They have pagers for the volunteers to come to where the fire is or to the firehouse or to the engine.  That is the way they operate.  And there is not a P25 pager that I'm aware of.

Moderator: Why do they operate like that?  Because they do, or is there a solid reason?

Member: Well, there are several reasons they operate that way.  One reason is cost of equipment.  They are volunteers.  Most of them buy their own equipment to be a volunteer, and they need a way to be notified if there is a fire and they need to respond. 

 

At this point the roundtable discussion went onto another topic for a time. The conversation then returned to “Migration” as follows:

 

Member: I mean, that is a fact of life and fact of physics, and there is not much you can do about that.  Trunked repeaters, vehicular repeaters, have been on the P25’s SOR list for years.  But, again, consumers aren't asking for it, so they are not going to put a lot of time into it.  ‘They’ being industry.

Member: And in looking at the - not discounting anything you said, by the way.

Moderator: I will just get a quick one from Steve and move on.

Member: Paging today, conventional paging, as we know it today, is slowly fading away like the pay telephone or like the fax machines are fading away.  There are no large providers of them.  So now a volunteer fire department, they can't afford to put a big station up on a stick in the air and try to cover a large area with pagers, because with using paging towers, you need a lot of them in order to cover the area.  So it is out of their economic reach, so it is not a solution.

So basically, the reality is, in the paging industry, who is making the equipment anymore?  Who can service the equipment?  And, quite frankly, they belong in a museum.  There has got to be a different way to do it.  That is just a fact of life.

Member: Unfortunately, there hasn't been a good technology to replace what those are capable of doing, monitoring dispatch channel, at the time or just after the page is happening.  They want to hear what is going on right away. 

I can tell you that just Phoenix Fire and the 20 other cities that it dispatches, they are going to hold onto VHF paging into the next generation of stuff.  They have to, because there is nothing to replace it.

Member: How long can they support it, because who is making it anymore? 

Moderator: That is a problem. 

Member: We run into this scenario many times where customers are looking to purchase P25 system and they want to continue to use paging.  And the solution that what we've been doing is basically dual mode system.  So truly interoperable P25 system can operate from both digital and analog mode.  So normally it is used as a digital system, but if the paging is sent through the dispatch console, it is sent out as an analog page.  So it is really, rather than - obviously, when you consider cost and complications of developing a P25 pager - it is much easier to make a dual mode system, which you have to have anyway for other reasons, and just use the analog part to send the page call out.  It goes back to having true interoperable P25 systems that will operate in dual mode.

Member: Who is making the pagers? 

Member: They just regular analog pagers.

Member: Who makes them? 

Member: Assembly? 

Member: Yeah.

Member: There are actually several manufacturers.

Member: I thought it was a dying business.

Member: They are used in Massachusetts, I know, from where we are.

Member: To what he is saying, that is absolutely correct.  We see that a lot after that mixed mode operation in Kansas with the exception of 800MHz. 

Member: The two public safety paging

Member: I'm not talking about trunking.  If they are running a mixed mode 800MHz trunked system, and in trying to do paging on conventional on that, there is no pager made on 800MHz.

Member: That is where we are all on, on the 700MHz system.  So how do you address P25 700MHz? 

Moderator: If I can throw a curve ball into this.  What will Phase 2 do? Because you are talking about mixed mode with analog fallback.  What will Phase 2 do to this option? 

Member: I really think that the way I look at Phase 2 right now, it only concerns trunking.  I don't really see Phase 2 - as of right now - we don't have standards for anything for conventional networks.  Phase 2, obviously, will make it even more complicated for paging.  It goes back now to Phase II P25.  You want to make it compatible with analog, or do we want to make it only compatible with Phase 1 P25? 

Paging - analog paging just goes with analog operation.  If we don't have backwards compatibility, P25 Phase 2 with analog, then we are not going to have paging, obviously.  But then, we can't really have analog if your purpose of buying Phase 2 is to have higher spectral efficiency in a trunking mode.  So it is completely different.

Moderator: Mark brought up the fact we need to support VHF analog for fire guys, and that is also going to be a problem.  It is not just paging.  It is also support for the fire guys in the building.  Craig?

Member: Yes.  Two things.  First of all, the FCC is not requiring that public safety paging on 115 be narrowbanded.  Number (2) there is really nothing that prohibits anybody from cross-banding to a paging channel.  If a fire department wants to listen to all of those pages out on their voice network, the mission-critical or critical-mission network, they can for either cross-banding or cross-patching or ISSI.  So there is nothing that really precludes that. 

My frustration is the fact that paging is just pushed off on the side.  It isn't that the solution is out there, as Admir pointed out, aren't available.  It is the fact that we have all of those volunteer fire departments sitting out there, and, basically, nobody is listening to them.  And it is not because they are not important, because most of this nation would not have fire service if it weren't for volunteers.  It is because there is no money in it.  It has been said repeatedly around this table; “they can't afford it.  They can't afford it.  They can't afford it.”  Well, at some point in time, the social good has to rise above they can't afford it.  And that is probably not right now, by the way. 

Member: And what really brought the paging thing forward was kind of some of the technology issues that came up with Phase 2.  Paging is definitely one in Phase 2, Phase 1.  The other thing that has kind of been dropped off, which has been a public safety tool for quite a while, is, and we tried to program this out from the technical standpoint: scanning.  Scanning has been attempted several times with multisite trunk systems, and it just keeping failing because of how the design has gone about.  They lose the ability to scan reliably through these systems.  And, again, like paging, scanning is something that public safety users have lost out in in moving to this or adopting this type of technology in many cases. 

Member: Because they are trying to scan two systems typically.

Member: Well, depends on - the root of the issue is which site that talk group is showing up on.  In non-simulcast systems, it is wandering all over the place.  And if they just happen to be affiliated with the wrong site they’ll never hear the talk in.

Member: I absolutely agree.  Scanning is one of our critical issues, and it is unlike what we are used to or accustomed to in the past.  It is not conventional.

Member: It is certainly not, by any means, a successful way of doing business.

Member: The manufacturers still call it ‘scanning’ even though it operates differently.  So there are perception problems from the user that when you say ‘scan’, they are thinking ‘conventional scan’, because that is what they have been trained on, but it doesn't operate that way.

Member: What they are expecting, in essence, at least the end user, in my experience, has been if they have Channel 2 on their radio, and they've got it in the scan list, if somebody is communicating on Channel 2 --

Member: They will hear it.

Member: They are going to hear it.  But the problem is, it depends on what site they are affiliated with.  While these users are hearing Channel 2 and they may be standing next to you, this user over here using Channel 2 isn't hearing Channel 2 in scan mode.

Member: Because there is nobody at the site.

Moderator: Can we keep it one person at a time? 

Member: We are not simulcast, either.  Recently brought itself to light in Michigan where we have supervisors that are responsible for officers and up to five counties at one time.  Without - I don't think that it is a real solution to put five radios into a vehicle - but how are we going to allow that officer to hear all five of those additional officers that he is responsible for?  And scanning simply doesn't work the way it used to, because, again, it relies on talk group being assigned to the tower you are assigned. 

Member: If you are doing a transition, like a police department comes on a 700MHz system, and they are used to conventional, and the sheriff office is still on high band and they have all of those in their radio so they can scan the sheriff's office. Now it de-affiliates, and you may not even hear your dispatcher when it is in scan, because you de-affiliated with the network to scan over to the high band so you are listening to the high band even if you have priority scanning set up in the radio.  It still won't work because you de-affiliated.

Moderator: Look, I think we are probably at a time at which we can conveniently break and take this up.  Because now we are moving into some of the difficult issues that I think, to be honest, you know, we are going to need some more time exploring.  So thank you very much.  We are going to have a brief break now. 

(Recess from 10:35 a.m. until 10:58 a.m.) 

Moderator: I think we are going to get started again.  Thank you very much. 

I think we have an awful lot on the table here.  In terms of where we are in this overall progression here [on the board] of different subjects, we are still in the early days. 

I think we probably touched on some of the bigger issues of the scope of P25.  I think, you know, we recognize some of the concerns on the regulatory issues and the timetable.  We are part way through the migration.  I think I would like to move from the higher level framework closer to the actual use and deployment of P25 right now.  I think migration is still a major issue here, because I mean, we've got a number of different scenarios.  We've got a number of different perspectives on migration.  These are some of the things I would like to explore. 

So, for example, the cost of migration, not just in dollar terms but in human terms of training, deployment, scheduling of the migration.  I think, in some of the technical terms, migrating from what?  You know: P25 Phase 1, some other system, analog?  And if we could explore some of that, you know, that would be a good lead-in to this next half of the first session. 

So if we can kick off first of all, if you were one of those people who put their hands up and said, “I'm thinking of migrating (for whatever reason) to Phase 2”, what sort of milestones would you be putting into your schedule now in order to make sure that that migration works?  I will open the floor up to that.

Member: Part of the beginning of migration that you need to consider is the funding mechanism, which is how much money am I going to have in order to migrate?  Which, then, you've got to be able to manage the migration path, you have to be able to continue in your current operations while you are moving forward.  And that is where the difficulty lies, especially with what I've read with the Phase 2, is being able to continue to operate within the system that we are on and move forward. 

Moderator: John?

Member: What we've done in Mississippi, of course, we have a P25 700MHz trunking system now, that we are going to install the software on the end of February/1st of March for Phase 2.  The Commission that is made up of a representative from each state agency that grows those Commissions. They require that each user on our network has to submit a plan to migrate to the Phase 2.  One thing that I guess is good about our system is the majority of the users already have APX radios, so it is an upgrade for most of those and no cost.  The older users, it has been on the use XTS 5000 or XTS 2500 series radios will have a cost to bear.  And that is why they have to submit a plan and budget.

Moderator: Is the cost a replacement cost? 

Member: It is a replacement cost for them, because those radios are not upgradeable.

Moderator: That is a statewide system? 

Member: That is a statewide system.  Also the local users that have to do something, they have the capability to either buy their own system or they can migrate to the state system, which long-term will reduce their operating cost.  Because if they are running a network now with towers and electricity and operational, they can do away with that network expense to maintain that and come on our state system.

Moderator: Richard, you are another statewide system user.  Is there a plan to move to Phase II?  And how is that planning going?  Have some of the big box items been identified? 

Member: Well, at this time, if there is, we've not been brought abreast of the actual plan in place, but with the concern of what Johnny has just mentioned, we will need to replace the majority of the radios on our system to meet the Phase 2 guidelines.

Member: I don't know if you were advised in the early days of a particular model being manufactured.  But when we started buying a particular model when it came out to replace an older model, we were told they were going to go Phase 2 with this model. And it wasn't until a newer model was brought out, was being talked about being brought out, that the business decision was made to not migrate that older model, which completely upset a large system deployer, like the one I referred to a few times.  I'm trying hard not to be specific, but I couldn't believe they did that, whoever they were. 

Moderator: I will just throw in another thing, and then I will take a question from Steven here.  So does it actually make sense, if you are making these business decisions, to hold off and say, well, I will just accept a big bang, or are you going to have a plan that tries to anticipate as much as possible and is premised on some sort of gradual migration?  Steve?

Member: I like the big bang theory you have there.  If you're, of course, economically challenged, like everybody is, the migration path is going to have to be done incrementally in as many bites of the elephant as you can take.  You are really going to have to sit down and pragmatically plan on that. Because the impact you have, whether it be on a talk group or whether it be on a region, or wherever it is - because you have handsets that can't be reprogrammed or evolved into Phase 2 - So you have to incrementally change the subscriber units first, get them to the point where they can do either or, so that the interoperability is on their hip. 

And the infrastructure, that becomes a very arduous task, because, then, at points you are going to have two islands of technology that can't talk.  So you are going to have to bridge them. And the only thing that we have today is some type of audio bridge, in other words, to bring the communication paths into a sharing technology.  The big drawback on those is, you can suffer the realization that everybody can talk but no one can listen, because it becomes unmanaged. 

So it becomes very painful: the larger the system, the more painful the task and the longer the incremental, I guess, walk down to or slow walk to Phase 2 is going to take you, for sure.

Moderator: Craig.

Member: Yes, I think the issue of migration is multilevel, depending on the size and scope and breadth of the community.  The first thing anybody has to do is justify why they need to migrate, pure and simple.  And they need to go to all of the neighbors and find out how they feel about migration.  Then they need to develop a plan and build a case with their commissioners, councilmen, whomever, and then they need to go out and seek funding.  And then they need a spectrum manager to come in (or have one on board) who is going to go through and look at what they have now versus what they are going to be using and ascertain whether they are going to have additional sites, change sites, change frequencies and locations.  So I don't think migration is a single dimensional.  It is multidimensional.

Moderator: No question about that.  Anyone involved in this multidimensional exercise right now? 

Member: With respect to what Steve said, there is no reason why you should ever create an island between Phase 1 and Phase 2.  No reason at all.  That is not something that is not already embedded in the Phase 2 standard. 

Creating an island between Phase 2 and analog was always considered to be optional for the user, because it becomes more expensive.  And so in the planning process - whoever is doing the planning - they have to reconcile that problem with their funding. 

Moderator: Do we have any particular experiences on some part of that? 

Member: I think that migration planning is often left for, you know, one small chapter of the implementation plan.  In reality, it has got to be a lot earlier.  There are never two that are the same.  Whether you do your subscriber units first and have them ready so when your next infrastructure procurement goes out, you can go to Phase 2 because you have already backfilled, or whether you set up the Phase 2 infrastructure, and Craig said it has the capabilities to run in Phase 1 and then start procuring the subscriber units.  You know, it can really go either way, but either one has to be planned. 

You mentioned that accidental obsolescence, where something you purchased, planning to migrate, later found out it doesn't migrate.  You know, that is something that needs to be addressed contractually.  You know, if you were told that it would migrate, were you promised?  If you were promised, is there a line in the contract? 

And by starting, you know, the planning of the migration right with the planning of the project, you know, you have to make sure those things occur.  Unfortunately, it is not the norm.  The norm is, again, like Chapter 3 implementation to migration, and it is 12 pages long.  Unfortunately, that is kind of the norm in the industry, but that is not really how it works.

Moderator:  Are you already involved in an exercise like this? 

Member: We are being asked to put migration plans together, and most of our projects where we are not being asked, we certainly are suggesting, because it is not always.

Moderator: Just one follow-up on this.  Are you expecting part of your migration plans to discover things, like discovering what real coverage is like (to throw in the biggest issue)?

Member: Yeah, I guess, coverage is always an issue, especially since we are going to a whole new modulation, something the industry doesn't have experience with.

Moderator: Exactly.

Member: I guess, I will have to say, we are somewhat trusting the vendors.  We also have our in-house coverage tool that we are using for analysis.  You know, we are going to have to see what happens, but we had conversations with all the vendors to understand where their concerns are, because they don't want to put in systems where they have to add towers, either.  So I don't think the coverage is going to fall as much as the expectation has gone up so far that we are already overbuilding.  I don't want to say overbuilding, but compared to the last generation, overbuilding.

Moderator: Okay.

Member: I think to echo what Steven is saying, one of the few things that is actually advantageous to the migration, and we found exactly the same thing you are speaking to, it does help from a funding perspective because of how it changed in the last two years in particular. 

I think we are finding there are no longer these huge grants unless you live in one of the UASI areas that homeland security is being at most risk.  You found yourself in a position where you are no longer looking for a big grant to fund your forklift upgrade.  So you are put in a position where you are trying some self-funding.  You are trying for grants in multiple ways hoping to cobble together your bogy, if you will, for the worst case scenario on expense.  Where this has helped is in this mode of progression where you do have to start somewhere, it lets me take it off in much smaller bites.  And this was very beneficial in approaching my council, because having a migration plan in place such as this, it recognizes the economic constraints.  It allows us to creep forward as opposed to run forward, and we are definitely expecting to have hard moments during that.  We are modeling everything we can possibly get our hands on.  I think to your point, as well, I think we are going to end up overbuilding a bit from a traditional standpoint.

Moderator: You have to have a certain amount of trust, but nobody has tried this before.  Isn't that right?  And that has to be part of the plan. 

 

At this point the roundtable discussion went onto another topic for a time. The conversation then returned to “Migration” as follows:

 

Member: I think if you are going to start with a trunking system that is already in place and if it is already Phase 1 and you want to migrate to Phase 2, the building blocks would be to start with your network, because you are going to have to add components to the network to make it function as it does today, I believe. 

And the talk out will probably be fine, and the coverage will be fine.  Your portable talk-in coverage is where you are going to have some degradation and adding something like a diversity receiver to the network.  So if you are doing that, then you have to add antennas and receivers, preamps, things of that nature, to your network to get it ready to go to Phase II. 

Moderator: Could you elaborate on that a bit?  So the portable calls in.  Why would it have a special problem in Phase 2 as opposed to Phase 1? 

Member: The power problem of that.  I'm not sure when you start splitting the frequency inside the portable.  The portable is limited anyway to power.  It is not like a mobile where you've got enough power to get back in.  So typically, when manufacturers design these systems, they are designing them for mobile coverage and not portable, unless it is specifically a simulcast system where you have enough transmitters and receivers in one location to do in-building penetration. 

Moderator: That basically is going to…you will need a pretty new radio.

Member: Well, on your system, even though it is a new system, we are adding diversity receivers and additional tower top amps at each site.  So we've got two antennas at the same height on the tower with two preamps. 

Moderator: Ken?

Member: Part of the thing I think we look at, too, and, again, we are fortunate when we did our redesign, we developed it for a portable system.  But what happened inadvertently, I expected the guys to be out walking around with the portable, talking in the speaker mic. 

What do they do now?  They sit and drive in their car and they are on the portable, and you've got a mobile radio sitting right there.

Member: So you are in a building, in effect?

Member: In a car.

Member: So I use one of Frank's, I hear them sometimes say, I'm on the portable.  Is that mobile mic too heavy for you?  You can't pick it up?  So that is one thing.  Again, diversity of the portable on the hip, even when you are outside.

Moderator: Is that an unintended benefit of moving to Phase 2? 

Member: It is a consideration of what you have to deal with, but coupled with, I think, the emission mask of what you are doing now.

Moderator: Admir?

Member: Again, going back to differences between trunking and conventional networks.  What we discussed for trunking really doesn't apply for conventional and vice versa.  I can give you just a little bit of insight from my experience dealing with customers on the conventional side, even migrating to Phase 1 P25, is that a state where you have over 300 communities, each one having their own individual radio system and fire department has their own radio system.  Police department has their own radio system, and not all departments have or can afford P25 radios. 

In a scenario like that, if one town decides to go with a P25 digital system, then, really, they lose interoperability with surrounding communities that don't have P25 capable radios.  So that is a big concern as far as the P25 system.  And when they are spending money today, community spending money today, they want to make sure that the investment made today is good for the next 10, 15, 20 years.  So we really need analog today, but we want to buy a system that will give us P25 capability.  So when surrounding communities, when everybody has P25 capable radios, we can then go to digital. 

So what we have been doing is deploying dual-mode systems that will operate in both analog and digital mode on the handset.  So if the transmission is received as analog, we broadcast analog, and same thing for digital.  And that is basically the only way that we found works for our customers in my state as far as for migrating to P25. 

Moderator: Wouldn't the economic climate of today encourage the small communities to basically try to aggregate their communications needs and work on a consolidated system? 

Member: Absolutely.

Moderator: And because it is larger and they've got their own organizations and groups, wouldn't they be inclined to go straight for trunking and say, Phase 2..  If we all agreed, we could afford it, we could fund it, and maybe this is the time to move to trunking.  What is your reaction to that? 

Member: Well, I am going to answer with a ‘yes’ and ‘no’.  First of all, yes, to larger systems. Going back to what Vincent said, one thing he said that kind of struck a nerve with me, because I couldn't agree more.  A lot of grants out there are very possibly receptive to wireless broadband as a network as a backbone for radio systems.  Funding sources prefer systems that are not just one-town systems but they are larger regional systems.  They are looking for regionalizations of the systems and of the infrastructure.  

So from that aspect, yes, building the networks wireless broadband networks is a backbone for radio communications for P25 systems that will serve more than just one community, more than one town, yes, absolutely.  And not just from funding perspective, but operational cost savings, and as well as it is easier to get funding for those projects. 

Now, all that being said is that, that is a big ‘yes’ for conventional systems being regionalized.  However, the problem with deploying a trunking system in such environment is that if the community or regional system decides to go with P25 or any other trunking, then all of the communities that surround that, they are not capable.  They don't have a trunking radio.  So,  unless you update the entire state at that point to give everybody trunking-capable radios, it is difficult to make that migration from conventional to trunking. 

Now, one thing that I see as a benefit is the systems that we integrate and sell to our customers: they are P25 systems.  So technically, the base station they buy today that is P25, that operates in conventional mode, can be upgraded to trunking.  So they can, down the road, consolidate their equipment and make it a trunking system.  Same thing with portable radios.  They are programmable to trunking.  That is the migration path, and that is another thing we mentioned.  We have got to have the migration path.  That is the migration path we see. 

The problem with Phase 2, yes, Phase 2 offers enormous benefits on trunking side, as the way I see it, anyways, versus Phase 1.  But how do we make that gap now, you know, going from…we are now migrating from analog to Phase 1, but now we also need to make sure that we are Phase 2 - not compliant, but at least buying equipment that is capable of P25 Phase 2 operation.

Moderator: Ken?

Member: One thing that, well, Orange County has done in their recent upgrade, they went to a 7X trunking system that has worked quite well for them.  But it omitted any compatible operations with Riverside, San Diego County etc. Now what they've done; they have access channels they can come in.  I come from LA County.  I, basically, don't have any 800 MHz trunk for them.  But I have four, five conventional channels that allow me to come in when they have a mutual aid type of event, they enable these.  And they are not just limited to 800MHz.  They have UHF and VHF channels that they can migrate through the console system into their trunked network and allow interoperability communications. 

So for those type of cases, and our approach, too, even though I need to have a simulcast trunked system, I'm not going to put everything on a trunked.  My opinion on trunked, it works great for day-to-day operations, but when you have Armageddon coming in, it makes it really hard.  We will have some conventional channels that will be out there, you know, more than likely P25.

Moderator: Speak up a bit.

Member: P25, as well.  But we will also have one or two straight analog conventional channels to allow those people coming from the outside in that may not have those type of radios to migrate into the system.

Member: To go back to your question originally. One of the things the 700MHz plans, or the basis for a lot of the 700MHz plans that were written in the loading criteria with 800MHz plans, and so on, it really pushed for regionalization loading. 

Now, there isn't any specific loading requirements by the FCC in 700MHz. That is pretty much built into the plans, and Arizona's plan is different than others as far as what the loading criteria is.  But the preference for a lot of the planning committees, to go back to what you had asked about to the joint or regional system, was for that. 

As a matter of fact, we struggle with issues involving jurisdictional areas in where agencies can build systems at.  In other words, if we didn't put restrictions within the plan, then agencies would be able to build sites all over the place.  We kind of focus that in and encourage, in our own plan within Region 3, regionalization as best as possible by only allowing an applicant to license or build within a certain area, making sure they cover their jurisdictional area.  If they need coverage outside of that area - again, per the plan - then they need to work with other agencies that are in that jurisdictional area to come together. 

So, again, 700MHz and 800MHz were pretty much built out, not necessarily to require it to a T, but to as best as possible.

Moderator: Encourage...

Member: Encourage, strongly encourage regionalization of systems and infrastructure.

Member: There is also a dichotomy that occurs on sort of density, and you look at very small communities that have one site.

Moderator: Yes.

Member: Put quotes around it.  They have a tower on top of the courthouse, and they cover their city with one channel.  You have three of those in an area.  If you bring them together, you've got to give them what they had before.

Moderator: And then some.

Member: And you have three channels to trunk.  You are going to multiply the cost of the system.  Yes, they get better coverage, better interoperability, but costs go way up.  The same three communities that already have a fairly dense radio system, that is already multiple channels, already multiple sites, they come together, and the price may actually be a savings.  So you do see a difference in areas as to whether joining into a regional is a cost add or a cost saver. 

It is always consistent with interoperability.  And that varies from regions around the country.  So back to that one solution doesn't fit all. 

Member: And, again, the plans allow for one or two frequencies, and that type of thing, for one jurisdiction to build something out.  But if they want to do anything else, like build a very small trunk system, then they have to start following more rules and load these things up, rather than us as the region losing spectrum just because an agency feels it wants a nifty trunk system.

Moderator: Neil, in that scenario, then, would it be - if you wanted to have the improved spectrum efficiency and you want to encourage the smaller systems to aggregate - that Phase 2 really needs to support, as Admir was suggesting, Phase 2 conventional operation well-defined from the start.  I just throw it out. 

Member: Yes, I really think that is very important.  But going back, I think the foundation of everything, any public safety equipment, any of the public safety, buying equipment today, one needs to buy equipment that is P25 equipment.

Because if you have a hardware that is software upgradeable, for example, if I sell a P25 subscriber today, my customer may use the conventional mode today, and then move to trunking operation down the road.  If my client buys Phase 2 capable radios that is going to initially operate in Phase 1 or analog mode, down the road, we may upgrade it to trunking operation.  If he buys a base station that has a hardware platform that is capable of Phase 2 operation, then he is currently going to use maybe analog mode. But I can upgrade firmware to Phase 2 trunking, and then I can put them all in one rack to make a small regional trunking system.  I think that is huge.  I think that is really important in buying equipment to follow basically P25 standards and to not buy equipment that is not compliant to P25.  Because what I like about P25 Phase II, it does give us flexibility, and I think it is very important for manufacturers to maintain that: to give us the Swiss knife of base stations that can be upgraded to do Phase 1 or Phase 2 or trunking or not.  Again, because if I'm - as a customer, an end user, if I'm spending $15,000, $20,000, $30,000 for a base station, I want to make sure that base station will serve me for the next 20 years.  Doesn't matter what we decide in the end is going to be the best system for my town or the region.  So I think that is very important for all manufacturers.

Moderator: So you think there might be a real danger for people to meet, for example, these regulatory timetables, so for a non-P25 technology that they can afford now, that it is expedient, but it is also creating a problem for them.

Member: Absolutely.

Member: It is a waste of money.  From my opinion, it is really -  I don't know how to put it differently - but, you know, a waste of money.  If you buy the subscriber today, and a portable or a mobile unit, you are buying it today, and you are planning for the next ten years, not often do portable radios really last ten years.  An average five, six years, seven years, thereabouts.  In seven years, there is going to be another standard.  It is going to be time to buy another radio at that point.  I would… it is really… it is either stay with analog and just do analog bands, or go to P25. This is my perspective, my view of the options for a customer.  If a customer cannot afford currently P25 compliant product and only can afford analog right now, then go with analog, but do not go with nonstandard digital technology, because that is not going to - you are not going to realize the benefit and it is going to hurt the interoperability perspective.  You are not going to be able to talk to another town.  If DPW department in the town is going to the DMR solution, I have a problem with that because firefighter needs to talk to DPW or needs to talk to a municipal like department or needs to be able to talk to them, and they can't if that I are using DMR unless they use some other solution for Gateway.

Moderator: I might take a quick straw poll on this, because a number of these things seem to be coming together.  Would you say that one of the most important and effective things that could be done so far is nailing down what Phase 2 provides, is that absolutely seamless backwards compatibility with Phase 1 and with analog in both the subscriber equipment and the infrastructure equipment.  Just a straw poll here.  Who would agree with that?  Okay, who would disagree with that? 

Okay.  Craig, why would you disagree? 

Member: I don't believe it provides ‘absolute seamless.’  The standards for Phase 2 were such that the interoperability between Phase 1 and Phase 2 can be done several different ways.  It is transparent to the user from the standpoint of the technology, but it is not necessarily transparent to the user from the standpoint of quality.  The number of transcoders used in that process, the standard that…and when I say standard, it is not really a standard.  It is task stuff.  It is currently pretty open to allow several ways to achieve that objective.  So I think the end consumer has to be aware of what it is they expect from that backward compatibility.  It is there.  It will work, but you have to understand, I guess, how it is going to work.  Is that fair to say? 

Moderator: If I could play Devil's advocate here.  Suppose that all of those options were put on the table.  You might actually need to change the transcoder.  Do you want us to do that?  You might need to accept lesser quality on some of these backwards compatibility.  P25 is a user-defined standard.

Member: Yeah, I think…

Moderator: Are we going to have a consensus here? 

Member: If you…I would say, ‘yes’, if you are clear that we are talking about backward compatibility, not necessarily couched in outstanding or quality or any kind of context that ensures - because like the issue of radios, upgradeable radios. If you don't specify when you buy that product that you want that upgradeable capability there, and it is not contractually obligated, as Neil said, they will put a process in there that in all probability it will not be upgradeable.  So you have to keep your vision always out in front of you and see that screen.  And if your vision is to say, it is backward compatible without qualifying, then I can support it.

Member: I have a comment on that really quick, because you hit a nail on the head for a lot of us.  You hit the nail of the head.  Part of the deal that we have seen with one of our cities is that they went out and bought radios.  When they wanted to upgrade, low and behold, the 4 megabit processer they had wasn't enough to handle it.  How do we inform those in public safety of some of the standards or technical issues or widgets or gidgets so they have a resource to get there?  Because a lot of us don't know.  And for us that should know, shame on us kind of, but for the guys that actually make the decisions, city council people or the admin people, we've got to give them a place to find this out.

Member: Like we talked about earlier, that is one of problems we ran into in our neck of the woods, where we had a lot of different agencies that would work with this radio shop and buy equipment, or they work with a different salesperson and so on.  What was found was this particular manufacturer was selling a lot of different flavors which became incompatible with the overall direction the system was going. Which meant they had to replace equipment, so on and so forth. 

So this particular region, Brad, the manufacturer, way up at the top of the neck brought in a VP and said, look, this has got to stop.  We have a, quote, unquote, ‘standard system’ here, and you are allowing your sales forces in all different directions to go out and sell, to members of this network, pieces of incompatible equipment.  You know, so they are held to a much higher standard internally that they have to require their sales force to be in lockstep with each other so we can get away from that.  But that was a problem.  But you had to reach back deep into the manufacturer at the highest levels and tell them, we have a $150, $200 million system here.  You are screwing it up. 

Moderator: I will try to widen this a bit.I just want to get Robert Richard on, because we've actually gotten to deploy some of these things here. 

What would be some of the problems that you would see, that might make you pause about wanting to migrate to Phase 2, whether you want to, whether you shop around for another technology?  Is it all budget?  Is it all money?

Member: I'm in a similar boat to Mark.  Our system is 18 sites.  I've got 3,500 subscribers on it.  I drew the short straw in our group, and I did the civil work for ours.  So I was the one that stood in front of the Commission and made the presentation, explaining that this technology was going to carry us, you know, into several more election terms for those guys that were making those decisions.  And now this next model radio was out, and the decision has been made by, you know, some marketing geniuses, (we will call them), not to allow this current radio that we have several hundred of to migrate to P25 Phase 2. 

So we've already started a some migration discussions, you know, and we are faced with the same economic challenges that everybody else are.  We came from a conventional VHF system where guys were buying $300 portable radios to a P25 7X system that the radios are $3,000.  So there was already a large learning curve there, and now here we are going back to the people that funded the system and saying, this is great.  It is working better than expected.  Everybody is happy with it.  All 14 municipalities are praising us. However, this is not over.  It was not a finite purchase and the comment that has been made back to me several times, which I'm sure Mark has heard; when is this radio deal going to be over?  That is what the Commissioners asked me.  I said it is never going to be over.

Member: Absolutely.

Moderator: It is like laptops.

Member: It is technology. 

Moderator: It is constantly evolving.

Member: That was one of biggest issues, is not understanding that over the years, you go out and buy the radio system, and then, in five or so years maybe buy a base station, add a base station.  There wasn't really a program, per se.  This radio system, these radio system infrastructures, have to be fully funded, and part of the main budget process.  I mean, the program has to be there constantly for the maintenance update.  Nothing that public safety or governments really had to go through in the past, as we do now. 

Moderator: Forest?

Member: One of the things I think is prolonging some of this pain is our scheduled radio replacement, because it leaves us in a lurch, and it is a much smaller piece of the migration plan.  I have, in my budget, X number of radios I can plan on being inoperable this year, next year, those kind of things.  It really puts us in an odd position when you are trying to position yourself for the next level of technology. 

Moderator:  Yes. 

Member: You've got a number of radios that have got to be replaced, and you are faced with kind of a dog-eared decision, speaking exactly to this, that could leave us prolonging the pain as opposed to having something that would be upgradeable or compatible when we do our forklift, which may be years down the road.  It is that life cycle of that portable that is really the catch in this.  It is not like a base station.  The portable, we are thinking, with any luck, five, six years it will last.  So we are married to that radio for five or six years.  Well, if I'm planning to do a forklift upgrade in three, however, I've got X number of radios in the interim to replace, what is most prudent way to spend that revenue?  I don't know.  We are faced with an issue there.  I certainly don't want to replace those radios with old technology.  I can't answer to that. 

So I have got to do something.  I think we stand as a public safety group of making a really bad decision.  I think it is part of the reason this thing moves so slowly forward is that you are really faced with, do I invest in newer technology, or do I stay with what I'm using right now?

Member: Mr. Chairman, I don't think you can ever lose sight of your vision of where you want to be.  I mean, we are talking about near term, but you always have to have a focus on where I want to be in ten years from now.  We discussed at breakfast, and somebody said, well, I think it was Neil.  In fact, somebody said, most public safety agencies really don't know what they want to be.  They just know what the last vendor in the door basically is selling.  That is probably true, but the fact of the matter is, we, people who have been in leadership positions in public safety, have not done a good enough job mapping out where the future should be.  And the whole discussion of Phase 2 shouldn't be that difficult if we've done a good job mapping out.  That is our problem.  We failed.

Moderator: That is why we are having a round table.  We are filling the vacuum.

Member: We are the guys that failed.  We shouldn't have to do that, but we do, and we don't have a forum.  We don't have a mechanism to let the public safety community be informed about what they are really buying as opposed to what they think they are buying, whatever.

Member: What the manufacturer says they are going to have.

Moderator:  And there is no certainty. Nothing that you can say, well, you know, I hear what you say, but is it actually secured by a standard testing…

 

At this point the roundtable discussion went onto another topic for a time. The conversation then returned to “Migration” as follows:

 

Member: Going back to the question about backwards compatibility of Phase 2 to Phase 1 analog.  When I asked that that is something that should definitely be implemented, I'm not necessarily meaning that as a Phase 2 radio being capable of operating in analog and Phase 1, everything at the same time.  And I understand that what Craig brought up is that would have some side-effects. 

What I really meant is that the hardware itself, what is very important is that the hardware should be firmware upgradeable to each one of those modes of operation.  So not necessarily do I need Phase 2 to be backwards compatible.  But I would like my radio to be Phase I, Phase II and analog capable, depending how it is set up in the firmware.  So what is important is to have the hardware platform that can support all three.  Not necessarily on the fly, but as needed, as programmed.  And that would address the concerns that you're mentioning.  For example, okay, I have some radios that are getting old now.  I need to buy new radios.  So as a vendor, selling the product - and my interest is to make my customer happy -  what I would like to be selling is a radio that I can tell my customer, this is a P25 radio, P25 standard, and it can be firmware upgraded to either support Phase 1 in analog or Phase 2 or trunking operation.  So in one product. 

So that would be ideal.  I don't know how feasible that is with today's technology, but in my view as somebody who sells these products, that would be ideal. 

 

At this point the roundtable discussion went onto another topic for a time. The conversation then returned to “Migration” as follows:

 

Member: I mean, maybe let's just consider the possibility that radios are like iPhones, iPads, laptops and you change them every three years.  I mean, maybe the problem with P25 Phase II upgrades or migration to it is actually simplified if we reconsider the whole buying model and why we justify having public safety radios that last for 7 to 10 years, as people have mentioned.  I just throw that suggestion out.  Is there any comment on that?  Ken.

Member: From personally being involved in running after a suspect in a ravine and calling on my radio and having nobody answer for about 20 minutes and then having your adjoining city saying, you know, one of your guys are over here after somebody?  Oh, no, we didn't know.  Would you like some help?  Yeah, it would be kind of nice.  Tussling with a guy and getting dirty and scuffed up and whatever and going over fences and dropping your portable, I don't think that…the model may work, but it has got to be able to withstand that.

Moderator: Okay.  All you are saying is that the radio has got to be tough? 

Member: Durable.

Moderator: There can't be compromises in some things like the robustness of it.  

Member: How long did the iPhone work after you put it in a bucket of water? 

Moderator: Well, again, you know…price.

Member: Are we talking $400 radio or $2,000 radio? 

Moderator: Well, isn't it true that manufacturers say, well, how many of these can I sell?  The more I can sell, the more I can afford to basically turn out a very, very good radio.  I mean, the iPhone is not something you want to chuck in the toilet, of course.  But on the other hand, it is a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment there.  It has a certain robustness built into it, and people are willing to pay 700, 800 bucks for it.

Member: If you are talking about transferring the cost of the technology back to the infrastructure and the subscriber.

Moderator: Yeah.

Member: Whatever you want to call it, basically be a $300, $400 unit but still provide all the requirements that we have as users.  I guess, I would have to say, that should definitely be the approach taken.  Because it would be a lot wiser to be able to not have to think of these things as $5,000, $7,000 units.

Moderator: Exactly.

Member: And be able to buy a lot more of them and enable a lot more of the technology.  It is one of the things that really holds up.  I truly believe people moving in the direction or joining systems, if the subscribers were a drop in the bucket through the various feeds, then it becomes a lot more feasible.

Member: I think it is mutually exclusive, reliable, and not long-lasting.  I think those two are mutually exclusive.  You can't have a product that is durable enough for public safety, which needs to be very durable, yet it doesn't last more than three years. 

But let's say we do have a product that is inexpensive and is durable.  And I mean, we will still hold onto it for ten years.  It doesn't matter that it costs 300 bucks 400 bucks if it lasts.  Why should I replace it after three years? 

Moderator:  One of the issues that came up is the pace of technology change.  So if somebody designs a radio for standing up to ten years, also has to have a full hardware platform.  You brought that up, didn't you? 

Member: Right.

Moderator: Suppose that you were thinking in three-year terms, and all the design around the hardware is only in three-year terms, and you are not worried about making specious marketing promises about being upgradeable, because from the point of the manufacturer, you are basically going to start it and build for the technology, you know, that is going to come up in the three-year timeframe.  You are no longer trying not merely to preserve the robustness, but also create that long-term platform.  I just throw it out.  It is a post lunch curve ball.

Member: It would also be akin to an evolutionary platform that can be added on.  But there are other RF technologies that have rugged handsets that sell for 70 percent less.  So I put it to you that the P25 technology can be value engineered and can be more price competitive. 

The vendors decide and set the price point, because they've been able to get it so far.  I think what is going to be happening in the marketplace with the new entrance into the marketplace and the new people that know how to go and market the P25 systems, they are going to start seeing new price points go lower and lower and lower. 

And I know that I talked to my clients specifically about that.  If you create a truly competitive P25 RFP, you are going to get a lot of natural competitive energy in there and the desire to come in at a reasonable price.  I talked to Nick Tusa about this for hours just the other day about how the new entrants are coming in and having a positive -- from our perspective -- a positive impact on the price dropping.  And I think what is happening on the vendor side is they are figuring out how to value engineer it so they can maintain their margins.  And by value engineering it, bringing the price point down.  More people will adopt this technology and go into other market places.  Like transportation is looking for something else. Utility companies are going to MPT 1327 which is a control channel technology.  They were going to control channel trunking but at a different technology because of the price point.  Functionalities are there that they like. 

However, if you put the P25, and you value engineer it, and you get a better economy to scale by being adopted by more marketplaces, then we are talking about radios that can realistically be within the economic reach of the majority of the public safety market.

Member: Let's rephrase your question a little bit.  Let's take…let's try something simple.  What if the cost of the equipment was one-tenth or one-twentieth, which would include the subscribers, the infrastructure, so on so forth, and the real costs of this were transferred to the software and the maintenance pieces.  In other words, that is what gets raised, but the cost of all the equipment is actually lower?  Is that kind of where you are going with that? 

Moderator: No.  There are lots of directions, because that is definitely one of the directions.  No, no, I threw this out because it has a number of different, you know, angles to it.  Robert?

Member: It just seems like it is more of just a thing from marketing, which wants to sell a tough, durable radio. And what does that translate into?  A radio that is able to last 10, 15 years.  But kind of going on your premise, if you are replacing a radio every three years but it costs $1,000, rather than replacing one radio that costs $3,000, you are paying the same amount over the course of time, but it is just a matter of perception.  Right?  I didn't get a robust picture.

Moderator: That is not quite true.  You may be building a radio which in many respects is just as tough.  This is just another one of the angles I'm exploring.  But in a sense, you are actually changing the way the whole market works.  For example, we discussed migration and backwards compatibility with analog.  What if your whole timeframe of technology change is now a three-year cycle.  So at the end of three years, nobody needs analog anymore.  The fire department is saying, “Well, we've overcome our problems, and so that whole requirement for migrating from analog no longer exists”.  And then you've got a new cycle of three years. 

Different processors … I mean, somebody brought up processor speed.  Craig did.  You know, the interfaces can change, but it is all within the three-year cycle.  So it is not a simple thing like compromising build quality with a shorter life cycle.  We can take that out of the equation. 

Member: As long as the end business needs are met, you know, I think most public safety agencies are willing to work with almost anything.  There is no real need to have ownership of the devices of the system infrastructure and so on.  From the user perspective, as long as their needs are being met, you don't care how they get there as long as what they've got holds up under duress and they can communicate from Point A to Point B.

Moderator: We discussed at lunchtime… just ask this first, Craig, and then I will get on to you, about leasing.  Why don't they like leasing?

Member: I think that reliance there is on redundancy that is built into a cell phone system, based on the needs of… the persons that use it.  Where the needs built on a public safety system are based off of the needs because, let's face it, when we need to use it the most, your system may not operate.  So the redundancies are different to build off of.  As long as those needs are being met with the infrastructure side of it, then I agree.  I mean, a…

Member: A lot of the states' purchasing laws may prohibit a leasing contract.  So you have to look at that aspect as far as from a leasing perspective.  

Moderator: Is anyone aware that there are purchasing arrangements that might require a lifetime greater than three years, actually require a stipulated lifetime of a minimum of, let's say, 7 years or 10 years?  I mean, I've seen at least one RFP that did that. 

Member: I mean, there are fees that  require the product is supported for…

Moderator: Craig.

Member: I think you run into a couple of problems.  First of all, I gave a speech in 1980 at an ICA conference, which most of you probably don't even know what it is, saying that at some point in our lifetime, my lifetime, public safety people will lease their equipment and not buy it. 

Having said that, and I think you get into a real problem when you talk about throwaway equipment, because most policemen, most firemen, if a knob falls off the radio, it is the whole system's fault.  They are not very tolerant.  You are talking about a massive culture change here. 

My old handheld yellow radio that you buy at WalMart to something that you buy commercially.  You talk about a lease system, you can get away with that, and it will work very well as long as your contract.  Going back to what Neil said earlier, as long as you have a contract that will accommodate that. 

The state of South Carolina used to lease their system from Scana.  They now lease it from another vendor or radio vendor.  State of Georgia looked at leasing a system from Scana. There are a number of states out there that actually lease systems.  So the concept is not foreign.  What is foreign is being able to sell it.  Being able to sell it, being able to provide a radio that is going to meet that public safety standard.  Why we pay so damn much is we ask for so much.  If we don't ask for so much, we won't pay for that.

Member: Part of the issue, too, is, again, on a state level doing a lease for a statewide radio system, in New England, we have so many little fiefdoms that they are reluctant to tender into a lease, because then that is going to taking away from their budgetary powers.  If we are buying -- if we buy it outright, then that is a one-time deal. 

They bond it and pay it back and…good-to-go.  Now you are in a lease.  That means, okay, well, a new election comes up, and this next group comes into office now stuck with this lease program.  And they are reluctant to get involved in long-term payments, because if the tax base has to go up, if something happens with the economy, it reduces their budgetary powers. 

Moderator: I will take one more question, and then we will probably switch topics again.

Member: Also, a lot of manufacturers don't want to agree to the terms.  Like in the state of Mississippi, they have the right to terminate a contract, a lease contract, at any time based on funding.  And that… and they won't sign anything that doesn't have that stipulation in there.  So, yeah, we will do a lease.  And we have a lot of tower leases that have that clause in there, but if, you know, the state wanted to terminate that lease, they can do it at any time. 

Member: Depends on what state.

Moderator: I mean, what triggered this question off is, clearly, that there is a culture change of some kind going on there.  And the smart phones, the so forth are part of that change.  And in that part of the market, we accept a lot more churn, and that churn comes with migration issues, you know, interoperability issues and so forth. 

And the question has been raised, is P25 too slow or should we be moving, you know, towards a model like that?  And then, in some respects, we haven't even started thinking about that.  If we were thinking in shorter life cycles, how would this work for us?  How would it work? 

 

At this point the roundtable discussion went onto another topic for a time. The conversation then returned to “Migration” as follows:

 

Moderator: I think we've said an awful lot on the topic.  What I would like to do, the last 10, 15 minutes right now, is open the floor for some questions that haven't been raised.  So any of the…- Ken? 

Member: Sorry.  I've got to ask.  Still about an hour and 20 minutes ago I thought I was the only guy thinking about this.  I'm leery of TDMA.  I'm so leery that I'm afraid that the noise floor and the performance, you know I'm either going to have increase the number of base stations, receivers by ten-fold, and when I go into a building and lose my synch, what is going to happen?  What are we doing about this? 

Moderator: Is this a view shared by other people here? 

Member: Well, TDMA is the early cell systems.  The early GSM cell systems were TDMA, However: lower power, more cell sites, and a totally different network altogether.  What we are seeing also today in TDMA technologies, in that square of digital way form, that we are finding there is, and it looks like this is going to be very problematic, there is a third harmonic intermod issues that are starting to raise their head today.  If that is the tip of the iceberg, we have a real big issue that we have to deal with.  Hopefully it is an anomaly, but if it is not, we've got some problems.

Member: I'm not overly concerned because the bit rate for Phase 1 at 9.6kbps and for Phase 2 at 12kbps is not a huge jump.  It is way below the bit rate of most of the TDMA systems out there.  Where you went from analog to 19.2k or 36k or 96k -  you know, big jumps.  So I'm a little less concerned.  We are still watching the vendors as closely as possible, and, again, sometimes comes back to a contract, making sure the coverage is agreed.

Member: My question is RF…

Moderator:  I'm going to jump in here.  So, actually, what I hear, because this is -- we have a broad audience here.  There are some concerns that there may be extra interference, that the reliability may be down, that the coverage will be significantly different.  It doesn't mean that it is  worse overall.  It is just different.  Now, if, you know, we are thinking about Phase 2 right now, is that what we are thinking about right now?  Or is that changing our plans?  Are we going to be so driven by, you know, our FCC timetables that we are going to go ahead and damn the torpedoes?  What are you going to do to satisfy yourself, if you've got these concerns, or are you satisfied that these concerns are going to be taken care of by the vendors somehow? 

Member: As far as we are concerned, we are modeling to make sure we agree that the vendor’s modeling, and, two, goes back to the contract, making sure that if it doesn't work, they are on the hook and it doesn't fall back to the agency's responsibility.  Richard Martin.

Member: My thought is, we need to touch that subject to see.  How do we know until we get there? 

Moderator: Johnny.

Member: We put in our contract that the vendor's responsible for providing 97% coverage for mobile coverage.  So if we change in the middle of that network, they are still on the hook to provide that coverage.  If that means adding more sites to beef that coverage up, if there are holes in it, then it is onus on them to do that.

Moderator: Craig, we will have to keep it brief…

Member: I would say two things.  First of all, before we selected the TDMA modulation, the manufacturers - at least two of the major manufacturers - gave us profiles of their coverage.  We compared them.  The technology that was selected provided a little less coverage than the technology the one manufacturer wanted to provide, but it had some other attributes we felt were more important.  So I don't think coverage is going to be a significant problem. 

I hadn't heard of the intermod issue until now, so I can't comment on that, but I think Dale is right.  Phoenix is right.  If you have it in your contract, it doesn't matter.  It really doesn't.  Except they are going to have to pay the cost.

Moderator: Admir?

Member: I absolutely agree.  TDMA - this is not first time TDMA utilized it.  It is available in the U.S. with the MotoTrbo.  Tetra uses TDMA.  And if there are really concerns like that, I'm sure they will come forward.  My personal experience with deploying TDMA systems, Mototrbo, is we really haven't had issues on the receive side.  As far as the coverage and performance, if anything, it is better compared to conventional system. 

Now, all these things said, the systems talk out of TDMA, that it does generate a little more interference, unwanted signals than traditional system.  With that being said, I'm not sure what the standards are now of P25?  When I looked, it was actually - I guess, it is nonlinear for subscribers talk out, and I'm not sure about if there is two different types modulation – one on the uplink, one on the downlink.

Member: On the subscribers, it does not require linear amplifiers; is that correct?  I don't know if that is still true.

Member: No. 

Member: Because that relates to interference.

Member: There is a form of linearization for the power amplifier

Moderator: Up link? 

Member: No, no, for the mobile, for dealing with simulcast.  But it is not a linear amplifier as you and I know it that is going to do any amplification.  It is more to stabilize.

Member: So what I was getting at…

Member: By the way, it is independent to each manufacturer how they do it as long as they meet the standard.

Moderator: You are not worried, Admir? 

Member: No.  All that is being said, with the TDMA experience that we have, Phase 2 P25 is going to be yet different because it uses a different form of TDMA, both uplink and I think also on the downlink.  So we have to cross that bridge when we get to it, I guess.  But manufacturers and vendors are responsible for delivering the coverage.  They are obligated by contract in the end.

Member: For the record, Southern California, we are starting to see MotoTrbo tearing us up. 

Moderator: Okay.  What I might do is just open up to anybody right there, including the silent in the back, if there are any questions that, you know, you would like to see tabled right now. 

Member: I would like to hear amongst the end users…I would like to know what percentage of you feel committed to going to Phase 2. 

Moderator: Hands up, please. 

Member: We have active systems being implemented for our clients. 

Moderator: How many is that?  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.  Thank you very much.  Actually, I think that almost brings us to a close here. 

 

This document is the third transcript in a series of theme-focused videos of the P25 Phase 2 discussion. 

Watch the video | Download the transcript (440 KB PDF)

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Delegates to the October 19th, 2011 roundtable talk about the major benefits of the P25 Phase 2 technology for public safety organizations:

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