Radio System FAQs

1. What is the radio project status?
A contract was signed by the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners and ARINC on Wednesday, August 1, 2012.

2. What is the new radio system?
A Project 25 (P-25) UHF T-Band Digital Trunked radio system. 

3. What is included in the project?
The project includes upgraded dispatch consoles, core system equipment, tower site equipment, dispatch alphanumeric paging system, and other related equipment associated with the county’s communications center and dispatch capabilities.

4. What is P25?
Project 25 (P25) is the standard for the design and manufacture of interoperable digital two-way wireless communications products. Developed in North America with state, local and federal representatives and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) governance, P25 has gained worldwide acceptance for public safety, security, public service, and commercial applications.

The published P25 standards suite is administered by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA Mobile and Personal Private Radio Standards Committee TR-8). Radio equipment that demonstrates compliance with P25 is able to meet a set of minimum requirements to fit the needs of public safety. The P25 standard was created by, and is intended for, public safety professionals.

5. What is T-Band?
T-Band is the UHF spectrum from 470-512 MHz. The FCC made a decision to allocate TV channels 14-20 for use in the public safety sector in larger metropolitan areas. The assignments within this range are typically called T Band, named for their using the Television Band frequencies for two-way use.

6. What is trunking?
There are two types of radio systems: conventional and trunked. In a conventional system the radio message between the station and units in the field occur on one frequency. At any given time, some of the frequencies or channels may be so busy that messages are delayed or "stepped on," while other channels are lightly used or not used at all. When several departments share a single frequency, they may cause interference with each other. This is the case with Lancaster’s current frequencies. Trunking is a method that utilizes all frequencies in the radio system to its maximum potential. In a trunked system, all stations and units share all the frequencies. When a message between a station and a unit is commenced, the trunked system automatically selects an unused frequency and switches all radios in the system to that frequency. No one frequency is assigned to any department and the frequency could change every time a transmission is made. Instead of talking on a specific frequency as users do on the current system, a user in a trunked radio system utilizes “talkgroups.”

7. Which radios will be permitted on the system?
LCWC and the radio project committee will be working with ARINC and the County’s consultant reviewing and certifying radios for use in the near future on the network.

8. Pyramid Repeaters and the new system
All three of the vendors that have provided RFP and BAFO responses have explained how their equipment would interface to the existing Pyramid repeaters that are currently in use by the fire service.

9. What radio system coverage can I expect from the new system?
The county requested that the design of the new system be at least 95% reliability, 95% of the time for in building, on hip portable coverage. In contrast the existing system was never built as a single system but with add-ons to add-ons as needs arose and was never designed to provide in building portable coverage.

10. How will I be able to communicate or Interop to other counties?
The network will contain many interoperability features for units responding into the county. The County is working with the state radio project office and the South Central Counter Terrorism Task Force (SCTF) Communications Sub-Committee to integrate our new radio system with adjoining counties and the state. As these design plans are finalized we will provide further details. Please note that York County and Dauphin County are currently operating on UHF T-Band trunked radio system and Lebanon County is operating on a UHF trunked radio system.

11. Will public individuals be able to purchase and use radios on the new system?
No, only department or municipal owned radios will be permitted on the system.

12.What is Phase 1 that is being talked about?
The Phase 1 testing is a component of the contract that requires ARINC to implement a three site pilot system that covers the downtown area of Lancaster City. The county will be testing the features and functions of the system. Users throughout the county will be invited to come and test radios. A rumor is floating around that the city needs to purchase radios for this testing. The city does NOT need to purchase radios for the testing. The City is not directly involved in the testing. The County and their consultant are doing the testing

13. If I have a question about the project, whom do I contact?
Questions can be submitted through the Feedback Form on this web site.

14. Can I listen to the new system on my scanner?
The new trunked radio system can be monitored by any scanner that is APCO P25 Phase 2 capable. Conventional scanners will not be able to decode the digital voice data.  Information on frequencies and talk groups for the system can be found in the Radio Reference database.