Monday, December 28, 2009

Cumberland County Commissioners Sign Key Agreement to Begin Portable Radio Exchange

December 28, 2009

CONTACT: Megan Silverstrim, Cumberland County Department of Public Safety

Cumberland County Commissioners Sign Key Agreement to Begin Portable Radio Exchange

Cumberland County, Pennsylvania- December 28, 2009 – On December 28, 2009 Cumberland County Commissioners approved a vendor agreement with Harris Corporation. The action sets in motion a major initiative to update the County's Radio Communications System. The initiative includes two major steps: a long awaited Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frequency reconfiguration and the release of a new generation of portable radios for emergency personnel throughout the County.

The FCC is reallocating frequencies to alleviate cell phone interference that occurs in 800MHz radio systems, which has been a recurring problem for Cumberland County and other emergency radio systems nationwide. The reconfiguration allows the FCC to move cell phones signals to a different range of frequencies which clears the 800 MHz spectrum for emergency communications.

The Department of Public Safety is deploying a new generation of portable radios to support police, fire, EMS and other emergency workers in the field. The Open Sky P7200 series portables will replace the P800 series portables. The communication system upgrade will include new software that has been extensively tested by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Cumberland County Department of Public Safety has created an implementation team for the communications system upgrade that includes key staff from the Department of Public Safety; Harris Corporation – who acquired the Open Sky radio system from MA/COM; and L.R. Kimball - the County’s technical consultants on this project. The implementation team will authorize and coordinate training schedules to educate users on the operations of the new radios, identify target areas for replacement and formulate a schedule for the actual exchange process that will occur over the coming months. The team will also implement a quality assurance program for the radio system and expand efforts to generate feedback from system users throughout the County so that issues can be identified, addressed and corrected.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Are You Ready For The P7200 Series Exchange?

As our office continues to work towards preparing for the P7200 series exchange, we would like to remind all services that they may need to do some preparing for the exchange as well. We are encouraging all companies and departments to begin inventorying their portables, batteries, chargers and any other accessories that will be exchanged. While we do not expect you to collect items at this time, it is important that you know the location of all items. We understand it is easy to lose track of a battery or charger along the way, but any missing items MUST be located for the exchange process to occur.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

November PTT Report

The report shows statistics on Push to Talk (PTT) throughout the County as well as tower site statistics. In November there were 327,530 PTT’s, brining the 2009 total up to 3,507,923 PTT’s.

The following stats are discipline specific county wide.
Law Enforcement- 114,736 PTT’s
Fire- 34,545 PTT’s
EMS- 46,130 PTT’s
Agencies- 71,175 PTT’s
DPS- 2018 PTT’s
County Departments- 5,436 PTT’s
Municipalities- 71,903 PTT’s

Monthly PTT’s from the main dispatch (9-1-1 Center) talk groups:
Fire- 21,261 PTT’s
EMS- 39,246 PTT’s
Police West- 22,641 PTT’s
Police East- 67,158 PTT’s
Police Data- 20,891 PTT’s

The average daily PTT’s was 10,918.

Top PTTers
– Dept. of Transportation with 32,286 PTT’s.
Public Safety – DPS (CUMB911) with 1,276 PTT’s.
Law Enforcement – Silv1er Spring Police with 11,577 PTT’s.
Fire – Naval Support Activity Co.37 with 2,161 PTT’s
Fire Police- East Pennsboro Co. 5 with 704 PTT’s
EMS – East Pennsboro Twp EMS Co.75 with 322 PTT’s.
Municipal – Lower Allen Public Works with 1,851 PTT’s.

Voice calls generated per site
Lambs Gap
- 263,222 calls
Reesers Summit- 234,798 calls
EOC- 235,271 calls
Courthouse- 163,328 calls
Commonwealth Technology Center- 129,272 calls
3 Square Hollow- 131,366 calls
Ship Cell- 118,211 calls
South Mountain- 126,119 calls
Waggoners Gap- 79,805 calls
Rose Garden- 86,024 calls
Boiling Springs- 77,032 calls
Shippensburg- 82,700 calls
Dickinson Twp- 64,380 calls
Holy Spirit- 36,411 calls
Kings Gap- 40,431 calls
Pine Grove- 6,106 calls
*There were no queued calls this month.

Site Utilization (Percentage of Site Use) November 2009
Lambs Gap- 9.44% Forward 6.71% Reverse
Reesers Summit- 10.3% Forward 3.43% Reverse
EOC- 8.25% Forward 2.73% Reverse
Courthouse- 9.9% Forward .53% Reverse
Commonwealth Technology Center- 8.19% Forward .44% Reverse
3 Square Hollow- 7.09% Forward .37% Reverse
Ship Cell- 8.4% Forward .5% Reverse
South Mountain- 6.75% Forward .25% Reverse
Waggoners Gap- 6.65% Forward .29% Reverse
Rose Garden- 6.72% Forward .26% Reverse
Boiling Springs- 6.66% Forward .12% Reverse
Shippensburg- 6.99% Forward .42% Reverse
Dickinson Twp- 5.69% Forward .13% Reverse
Holy Spirit- 6.46% Forward .11% Reverse
Kings Gap- 4.76% Forward .09% Reverse
Pine Grove- 3.48% Forward .01% Reverse

As of this report we have 2,340 radios on the system in Cumberland County. Total number of talk groups to date = 378 on the system within the County.

Control Stations: 20
Mobiles: 662
Portables: 1,658
These numbers include a few of the State radios that we’ve allowed to use our system.

V-TAC Management

We’ve all done it! You’re dispatched for the AFA to the nursing home, warehouse or business that you run, what feels like 100 times a year. Every time you get put in service in route or shortly after you arrive you quickly discover it is a false trip. Typically this all occurs on Fire 1. Typically we engage our V-TACs on such structures. What if the next time you show up, normal conditions from Side A, you and your team head in to investigate, still on Fire 1. This time you actually encounter a fire! You’re going to need a Talk Group! At this point though you are locked on to your V-TAC, no way easy to switch Talk Groups!

It is easy to say, “It’s just another AFA, no need for a Talk Group, we won’t be here long”. Would you send your firefighters in without airpacks on the standard AFA? No, because as responders we must always be prepared for the unexpected! So don’t send your firefighters in without a Talk Group.

When we were still using the low band system, it was alright to wait to request a channel, considering we had a limited amount of channels. Now that we are using the 800MHz system DPS is encouraging all responders to request a Talk Group on calls to structures where they know V-TAC’s are needed and there is potential for an emergency that may warrant the need of a Talk Group. Before you send your teams into the building, if Headquarters has not assigned a Talk Group request it! Switch to the assigned Talk Group on the mobile radio in the unit that will engage the V-TAC, and then engage the V-TAC.

V-TAC management is still a new concept in our county and something we all need to continue to train on. Looking for a topic for a company training night? Try V-TAC management! If you are interested in ideas or assistance for in house V-TAC training or have questions in general regarding V-TAC's please contact DPS!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


We are still looking for your feedback concerning the emergency button function on the Fire radios. Be sure to read the blog posted December 4th. Please post comments regarding your thoughts on our concerns with the button, if the button should be reactivated, training on the button etc. All comments posted are anonymous, unless you choose to sign your name.

All services (EMS, Police, Fire Police), with use of the button are welcomed to send along there thoughts and ideas as well.

This blog is a great opportunity for you, the user to communicate to us your concerns and thoughts and again we encourage you to post comments!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


We have briefly mentioned in previous blogs that there are several players that have been involved in the negotiation of the P7200 series portable release process and the band reconfiguration. Below you will find a list of these entities and what role they play in the process.

Cumberland County DPS

Harris - This may be a new name to some, but Harris Corporation signed an agreement to acquire Tyco Electronics Wireless Systems (formerly known as M/A-COM) in April of 2009. The Harris Corporation is now the provider of radio service and support for our 800MHz system.

Company Profile: Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. Headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, the company has annual revenue of $5.4 billion and 16,000 employees — including nearly 7,000 engineers and scientists. Harris is dedicated to developing best-in-class assured communications® products, systems, and services.

L. Robert Kimball - This consulting firm has worked with Cumberland County throughout the 800MHz radio project and will be handling the radio exchange process. As the actual exchange process will be tedious and very time consuming, Cumberland County has contracted with Kimball to assist in the exchange.

HACC - HACC has been contracted to assist in the delivery of training on the P7200 series portables.

Sprint/Nextel - Sprint/Nextel is the cell phone provider that operates on the 800MHz band and has been tasked with much of the financial responsibility during the band reconfiguration process. They are financially responsible for the costs associated with the P7200 series portable release and exchange among other things.

Transition Administrator - The Transition Administrator (TA) is an independent organization established by the FCC and comprised of Deloitte Consulting L.L.P., Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P., and Baseline Telecom, Inc. The purpose of the TA is to ensure a smooth 800MHz band transition nationwide. They will be responsible for establishing reconfiguration guidelines, specifying replacement channels, reviewing reconfiguration cost estimates, monitoring payment of reconfiguration costs, managing the relocation schedule, facilitating issue resolution, and administering the alternate dispute resolution process( The TA has been working with Cumberland County throughout the band reconfiguration process and assists and approves of contracts established between all involved parties.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Several questions have been posted on the blog and asked in meetings as to the status of the emergency button for the fire departments. The emergency button functionality is currently disabled on fire service 800 MHz radios. The decision to disable the button occurred due to events that occurred during training that caused DPS great concern. Prior to fire service transition to the 800 MHz radio system – a number of exercises were conducted on the training profile with the emergency button function enabled. During the exercises a number of accidental activations occurred while the current P800 series radios were is use. Individual activation results in a 10 second open microphone not allowing the assigned talk group to be used. At times there were multiple activations occurring at the same time. During these situations – the emergencies are queued or “stacked” - each resulting in ten second open microphones occurring one after another – again rendering the assigned talk group unusable for the duration until all emergency activations was processed by the system.

The functionality of vehicle repeaters also weighed in the decision process. Vehicle repeaters have two deployable methods in the radio system. One mode is called “XCOV” – this functionality allows scanning of talk groups for portables attached to the repeater; however – this mode only allows a maximum of eight portable radios to attach to the vehicle repeater. The second mode, and the mode used for fire service radios, is called “XCOV-TG”. This mode does not allow scanning by portables attached to a vehicle repeater but allows for a maximum of 30 portables to attach to a vehicle repeater – more appropriate for fire service applications than the “XCOV” mode. Since scanning of talk groups cannot be done on the “XCOV-TG” – default emergency talk group – where the emergency raised moves it to a pre-determined talk group – would not be supported on a portable attached to the vehicular repeater. The only practical way to deploy emergency function in “XCOV-TG” is by raising the operations talk group to emergency status allowing only the emergency activation and ten seconds of open microphone on the talk group. All other tactical communications is preempted and will remain preempted until all emergency activations are processed if more than one activation occurs at the same time.

These happenings were alarming to DPS and presented a situation in which responders may not have the ability to communicate during a true emergency. It is for these reasons and safety concerns the decision was made to not enable the emergency button function on fire services radios when the transition to the 800 MHz radio system occurred in July 2007.

It is important to note that DPS has not completely abandoned the idea of enabling the emergency button with the release of the P7200 series portables. We are looking for user feedback through the blog regarding this issue. What concerns do you have? What are you feelings regarding the button? How could we improve training, to avoid these multiple activations? Your comments and input are extremely important to us regarding this issue and we thank you in advance for your help!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


As we are inching closer to the portable exchange process we thought the blog would be a great way to start to familiarize users with the new P7200 portables. While extensive training will still take place, we hope you find this introduction helpful!

Below is the P2750, which the average user will be utilizing, is the model without a the keypad function. The front face of this portable is very different from the P800 series. You will notice the display screen has been moved the the front face. The arrow keys allow the user to scroll through menu options on your portable. The "M" button acts as your "enter" button to activate selections. The SCN button toggles the Scan mode off and on.

The top of the P7250 will look some what similar to the P800 series. You will notice that the emergency button has been relocated to the top of the portable. The toggle switch for the V-TAC has been removed from the top of the radio as well as the A/B buttons that were used to scroll through menus. The display screen has also been removed from the top of the portable to the front. The LED radio status light can still be seen on the top of the radio, but is position on the front. The light is larger and more visible.

The side of the P7250 is extremely similar to the P800 series, the only major difference being the removal of the emergency button. The only other small difference is the scroll buttons are now located at the top of the PTT.

Monday, November 16, 2009

County Commissioners Sign Agreement with Sprint/Nextel

On November 10th we reported that Cumberland County was awaiting two contracts/agreements that were the cause of the delay for the P7200 release. The first agreement arrived late last week, signed by Sprint/Nextel and this afternoon Cumberland County Commissioners will sign this agreement. The second and final agreement, which is dependent on the first, will be soon to follow. Once this final agreement is signed, the exchange process can begin. Check back for information on the signing of the final agreement!

The offical press release can be found below.

November 16, 2009

CONTACT: Ted Wise, Director, Cumberland County Department of Public Safety

Cumberland County One Step Closer To Release of New Radios for First Responders

Cumberland County, Pennsylvania- November 16, 2009 – Cumberland County Commissioners signed a key agreement today. This agreement between the County and Sprint/Nextel addresses the financial responsibilities associated with the release of approximately 1,500 portable radios to be used primarily by first responders—fire, EMS and police. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined that Sprint/Nextel holds the financial responsibility for this reconfiguration, including the exchange of portable radios and radio training.

These new P7200 series portable radios became necessary when the FCC began a nationwide Band Reconfiguration for operators in the 800 MHz band. Phase 1 of this Band Reconfiguration reassigns frequencies for those using the 800MHz band, which includes Cumberland County and Sprint/Nextel.

For more information on this process, visit or the DPS 800 MHz Radio Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DPS One Step Closer to Release of P7200 Series

There were two contractual items delaying the long awaited distribution of the replacement portable radios – one was a cumbersome change order to the original agreement with Sprint/Nextel for the replacements. Cumbersome only because of the terms of the FCC Transition Administrator and Sprint/Nextel is responsible for funding the transition; and a second separate vendor agreement between the County and Harris (formerly M/A Com) to complete portions of the work required for re-banding. Just recently we received word that the change order was finally approved by the FCC. This was a painfully long negotiated process. The vendor agreement includes the Sprint/Nextel original agreement and various amendments that required multiple approvals. The County could not sign the vendor agreement until the amendment processes received approval. We hope to have the singed amendment very shortly from Sprint/Nextel and thereafter we can proceed securing a signed vendor agreement. We know this has been a long process for you the user and are working diligently to complete these final steps and begin the portable exchange process. Keep checking back for the latest updates.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

October PTT Report

Over the last year and a half DPS has been compiling monthly reports for the 800MHz system. The report shows statistics on Push to Talk (PTT) throughout the County as well as tower site statistics. In October there were 344,802 PTT’s, brining the 2009 total up to 3,507,923 PTT’s.

The following stats are discipline specific county wide.
Law Enforcement- 114,184 PTT’s
Fire- 37,622 PTT’s
EMS- 48,760 PTT’s
Agencies- 77,660 PTT’s
DPS- 621 PTT’s
County Departments- 59,653 PTT’s
Municipalities- 6,302 PTT’s

Monthly PTT’s from the main dispatch (9-1-1 Center) talk groups:
22,172 PTT’s
EMS- 41,213 PTT’s
Police West- 21,075 PTT’s
Police East- 68,627
Police Data- 21,192

The average daily PTT’s was 11,123.

Top PTTers
County – Dept. of Transportation with 36,720 PTT’s.
Public Safety – W.E.M.A. with 196 PTT’s.
Law Enforcement – Silver Spring Police with 12,753 PTT’s.
Fire – Naval Support Activity Co.37 with 2,048 PTT’s
EMS – East Pennsboro Twp EMS Co.75 with 425 PTT’s.
Municipal – Lower Allen Public Works with 1,638 PTT’s.

Voice calls generated per site
Lambs Gap- 275,331 calls
Reesers Summit- 251,487 calls
EOC- 248,767 calls
Courthouse- 168,659 calls
Commonwealth Technology Center- 140,883 calls
3 Square Hollow- 128,304 calls
Ship Cell- 125,337 calls
South Mountain- 125,007 calls
Waggoners Gap- 99,852 calls
Rose Garden- 90,239 calls
Boiling Springs- 85,759 calls
Shippensburg- 84,055 calls
Dickinson Twp- 68,769 calls
Holy Spirit- 42,868 calls
Kings Gap- 34,667 calls
Pine Grove- 7,452 calls
*There were no queued calls this month.

As of this report we have 2,300 radios on the system in Cumberland County. Total number of talk groups to date = 378 on the system within the County.

Control Stations: 20
Mobiles: 661
Portables: 1,619
These numbers include a few of the State radios that we’ve allowed to use our system.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DPS Accelerates Preperations for P7200 Series Exchange Process

Over the last two years many radio users have been left wondering why the process leading up to the P7200 portable exchange has been taking so long. One reason for this prolonged wait has been the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) ongoing Band Reconfiguration Process. Public safety radio systems are not the only users to operate within the 800 MHz band. Specialized Mobile Radio Systems, in particular Sprint Nextel, also operate within this band. As more and more public safety agencies began to utilize the 800MHz band in recent years, problems began to occur. Often times Sprint Nextel, one of the cellular telephone companies previously licensed to operate on a frequency close to or adjacent to a public safety system caused severe interference and often times caused the public safety system to not work to its full capability. To combat this problem the FCC has embarked on a 36 month transition that will reconfigure the banding and frequency assignments. New frequencies or spectrum will be reassigned with the Public Safety Sector relocating to the lower portion of the band, and cellular services spectrum will be moving to the upper portion of the band. The industry determined that it is not the location on the spectrum band that will improve the public safety systems, but rather the separation from the cellular services that cause interference.

The FCC has determined that all costs associated with this project have been deemed the responsibility of Sprint Nextel. Nextel has committed to providing $850 million for this project. Rebanding spectrum is an ongoing process that could take years to complete and is occurring nationwide. Cumberland County, as well as, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are going through the same process simultaneously. Obviously there are many players involved, including but not limited to our County, Sprint Nextel, Harris, and the FCC Transition Administrator. These groups have been working together for the last two years to address the rebanding process, to determine what was the appropriate inventory of portable radio and ancillary equipment, what the costs for exchange and installation and replacements in the exchange and who and what financial responsibility would have to be assigned. Currently we are waiting for the appropriate final authorizations to complete Phase I of this reconfiguration so that proposed inventory of replacement P7200’s portable radios can be released.

As we work towards the completion of Phase I, our department has been working diligently to make sure everything is in place for the immediately release of the P7200. A replacement schedule was developed and agreed to. A warehouse facility has been prepared and staffed in the recent weeks in preparation for the delivery and inventory of the radios coming into our possession. Both of these actions need to be in place and operating so that the exchange process can begin as rapidly as possible.

As we are resolving the final remaining issues and we inch closer to the exchange process this blog will be used to inform everyone and was established as part of our commitment to keeping you, the user up to date. We will continue to provide frequent updates as the exchange process gets underway in earnest.

Check back soon for the next blog update soon! In that blog we will address why the reconfiguration process requires new radios like the P7200 series.

Friday, October 30, 2009

800 MHz Radio Blog Introduction

Welcome to the new Cumberland County Department of Public Safety 800 MHz Radio Blog. The purpose of this blog is to keep users updated on the latest information concerning the 800 MHz radio program. Your input is important to us and readers are encouraged to leave comments, but only constructive comments and questions will be allowed. Any comments containing derogatory or inflammatory language will be deleted. Check back soon for updates!