Radio audio quality gets thumbs up

The NGRP Working Group endorsed design and audio quality of new radio system following hundreds of test transmissions.
The NGRP Working Group endorsed design and audio quality of new radio system following hundreds of test transmissions.

A significant milestone was achieved in December with the formal endorsement of the new regional radio system’s network design.  The Next Generation Radio Program (NGRP) is the name given to the multi-year planned initiative to replace the entire regional radio network by moving to next generation radio technology known as Project 25 (P25) in the 700 MHz band.

Based on feedback from agencies involved in hundreds of test transmissions during a successful pilot last fall, the NGRP Working Group—composed of representatives from police, fire and ambulance services across Metro Vancouver—gave its stamp of approval on the system’s performance and audio quality. With that endorsement and with the formal approval of the E-Comm User committee, also composed of senior leadership from police, fire and ambulance, the program can move forward to the next phase and remains on track for a full system roll out by the end of 2017/early 2018.

“All indications are that the new P25 radio system will outperform the existing analogue system and coverage into buildings will improve significantly.”

Deputy Fire Chief Tyler Moore,
Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services

“The priority for the pilot phase was to ensure the new network’s key functions and design met the requirements of first responders and the public safety community,” emphasized Steve Mountford, E-Comm’s Executive Director of Wireless Transformation. “We are extremely pleased that after two months of testing in noisy environments and from various locations, including challenging places such as underground parking garages and building basements, users of the system reported a high degree of confidence in the configuration of the network and the audio quality.”

Pilot testing began in October and included agency over-the-air tests, resulting in more than one-thousand transmissions over 45 days. The pilot network utilized eight radio repeater sites built and supported by E-Comm’s Wireless, Engineering and Information Technology teams. Members from user agencies were able to witness the full capabilities of the system to determine if it met their needs. At the pilot’s conclusion, agencies reported that the new radio system provided better coverage and audio performance than the existing radio system in the pilot coverage area.

“All indications are that the new P25 radio system will outperform the existing analogue system and coverage into buildings will improve significantly,” said Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services Deputy Chief Tyler Moore who participated in the pilot and is a member of both the NGRP and User committees. “This is of particular importance to all first responders and critical for firefighters who work within extremely noisy environments.”

The new system will provide radio communications for 33 agencies across Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley and will offer better coverage, improved resiliency and enhanced voice clarity and security.

“It’s exciting to be able to move forward with this critical public safety initiative and I would like to thank all of the agencies involved for their feedback and support,” added Mountford.