Report on 800 MHz System




Update on the testing and implementation of the 800 MHz system.




Tucker, Davis, Foley, Hanson






September 6, 2006


ACTION:                              INFORMATION:  X



  ACTION:                            INFORMATION:   












On April 2, 2006, all Public Safety agencies for the County of Albemarle, City of Charlottesville, University of Virginia and the Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport successfully transitioned to the regionís first generation 800 MHz Digital/Analog Simulcast Trunked Radio System. Cutover was followed immediately by a 30-day system reliability test. The purpose of this test period was to validate the overall reliability of the new 800 MHz radio system. During this period, the radio system must maintain error-free operation under normal radio user (mobile & portable) load conditions. It did so, as no failures were detected or reported during the designated test period. This test was completed successfully on May 2, 2006. This executive summary serves to provide an update to the Board of Supervisors on the testing and implementation of the 800 MHz system.



To enhance the well-being and quality of life for all citizens



Prior to the radio system cutover and the 30-day system reliability test, a coverage acceptance test was performed in May and June of 2005. The Coverage Acceptance Test Plan (CATP) was designed to demonstrate that the new radio system would provide radio signal coverage in the predicted areas as defined in Motorolaís coverage maps and as required in the Motorola contract dated December 31, 2002. Within these areas Motorola was required to provide on-street portable coverage in the County and in-building coverage (light to medium density buildings) inside the City and those Urban Areas just outside the City and along Route 29 north of the City. The CATP was conducted and completed successfully between May 16 and June 17, 2005, thus ensuring that full foliage conditions were experienced throughout the test period. The test results were as follows:


Four teams (made up of Public Safety Responders & Motorola Personnel) tested 6,802 grids or areas within the County and City. The test grids in the County measured 0.345 miles x 0.326 miles and the test grids in the City and Urban Area measured 0.15 miles square. There were zero grid failures in the City and Urban Areas and only eight grid failures in the County. As a result, coverage testing demonstrated that radio system coverage is predicted at better than 99% of the guaranteed coverage area, thereby exceeding the 95% coverage level required by the RFP and the Motorola contract.


Based on the successful results of all required test plans and processes, both RCC Consultants, Inc. and the ECC Project Manager recommended issuance of Final System Acceptance to Motorola for the ECC Regional 800 MHz Pubic Safety Radio System. Final System Acceptance occurred on June 30, 2006. All Motorola punch-list items for the ECC Regional 800 MHz Project had been completed successfully. RCC confirmed that the radio system was operating according to specifications and that Motorola had provided all required deliverables and conformed to all sections of the agreement. Whereas the ECC has assessed liquidated damages upon Motorola for its failure to have complied with the contractually required project schedule, such assessment had no effect on final system acceptance. At the time of its recommendation, RCC was aware of no issues or reasons that should prevent the ECC from issuing final system acceptance to Motorola. RCC remains aware of no such issues.


Current Activities

At this time, and separately from the Motorola radio contract which now has concluded, further evaluation and analysis continues in those areas of the County that were not part of the Motorola contractually required coverage area. In addition, in-building radio coverage testing that originally was planned to have occurred after installation of the radio system is indeed occurring to evaluate those buildings or structures where improvements to the Motorola contractually required level of coverage was deemed necessary. All other areas outside of the defined in-building coverage area but within the County contractual coverage area were designed to have portable on-street coverage only.


As a point of historical reference, the radio RFP had specified in addition to the 10 dB coverage area, various levels of portable radio in-building coverage requirements for a group of approximately 60 buildings that were located within the County, City and University. Motorolaís proposed cost to provide coverage within those building at that time was approximately two million dollars. Due to budget constraints, it was recommended to the ECC Management Board that this requirement be removed with the intent to re-evaluate the coverage levels actually obtained after installation of the new radio system. That evaluation has now commenced.


Through additional testing to date, it has been confirmed and reported to the ECC Management Board that certain rural and sparsely populated areas of the County, e.g. the Howardsville and Schuyler areas, which are located outside the guaranteed on-street portable coverage area, will require installation of additional equipment to provide improvements to the coverage. However, the ability to proceed with this process is affected by the current mandated 800 MHz Frequency Rebanding Process that has impaired the ability to obtain the necessary additional frequencies due to a freeze on new applications by the Federal Communications Commission. 


Some of the other areas or buildings that have been tested and evaluated are:



While recognizing that budgetary issues remain to be considered, the goal is to continue to evaluate the various buildings and areas requiring assessment and, upon completion, identify to the ECC Management Board recommended solutions, costs, and prioritization.


In closing, implementation of the new radio system has been very successful in addressing many of the critical shortcomings of the previous emergency communications system. Some of the benefits this system now provides to both citizens and public safety responders include:











There is no budget impact at this time. The ECC Management Board will monitor the situation related to additional equipment for improved in-building coverage and coverage in sparsely populated rural areas and report back to the Board of Supervisors as appropriate.



This agenda item is for the Boardís information. Tom Hanson, Director of the ECC and both the Police and Fire Rescue Chief will be present to address any questions the Board may have.


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