Tag Archives: DMR

The surprise Uniden package, that is not a surprise.

Well there you go!

A few months ago a popular scanner supplier and its associated web site Universal Radio based in the United States posted a page with a tantalising photo of the then purported Uniden SDS100 Bearcar. Scanner and communication forums in some parts of the world went into overdrive with a mixture of excitement, resentment, scepticism and assumptions.

Then just like that the page posted by Universal Radio was removed, but not before some folks had grabbed what information they could (which was little) and the image and hosted it on their own sites. Uniden through Paul Opitz (UPMan) made a brief comment regarding the SDS100 on Radio Reference which stated the following;

1) BCD436HP is still in production.

2) What was posted was an inaccurate and incomplete page from a PowerPoint of possible new product concepts. If it comes to fruition, I can guarantee that it will have some features not mentioned and will not have several features that were mentioned…and will have significant differences in appearance from what was posted.

3) Uniden did not intentionally leak this. It was unsanctioned and pulled from a page that included several important disclaimers.

4) If you contact Uniden Support, they will have absolutely no more information than you see in this post and in the leaked information. So, leave them alone, please.

5) I intend for this to be my only post regarding this matter.

The purported Uniden SDS100 image originally released by Universal Radio & that got some hearts racing.

Point 1 was made in relation to the numerous, obviously incorrect, comments, stating this meant the end of production of the 436HP series with some stating production had already ceased and there was minimal stock left. Point 3 was made in relation to the conspiracy theorists who saw what had transpired from the initial release of the image and information until its ‘mysterious’ removal, many saw it all as some sort of marketing ploy by Uniden.

What struck me was point 2, it obviously gave scanner enthusiasts hope. Maybe we should all look at Paul Opitz as the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the scanner world? Providing some hope and a glimpse of what could one day be from an old force, that being Uniden.

Fast forward a few months and Paul Opitz through his usual Jedi like coded mind tricks and through the magical power of his avatars began hinting at something. Then on Monday 19th March, 2018 Uniden announced the SDS100 albeit looking a little different, just a bit, from the original image posted that caused a stir initially. Here’s what has been posted so far on the new unit.

Uniden SDS100 pre-production model. Click for a larger image.

Some exciting things to note initially regarding this unit is the radio is based on Software Defined Radio technology, the ‘True I/Q’ and the fact it meets IS4 (IPX4) standards for water resistance. The 8 GB microSD card reader can actually handle up to a 32 GB microSD card.

At present UPMan is making some very big claims regarding the abilities of this scanner to receive and decode signals where its current x36HP series appears to struggle and only time will tell if this is true or he’s simply selling his product. He has been kind enough to provide video links via Radio Reference of both units working side by side for comparison.

Not too sure how owners of the current x36HP series will feel about those boasts. I’d imagine some would be quite peeved. In reality the x36HP were a leap forward in some areas and these new SDS100 are whole new era and leap forward again, so you’d have to expect improvements having been made when compared to your 2013/2014 units, it’s 2018 people, things advance. (Except with Uniden Australia apparently, come on folks win us back! ).

Close up view of the SDS100 display.

The new unit, like it’s predecessors (can we even call them that yet?) x36HP series, will have paid upgrades available to it over time to permit reception of;
– MotoTRBO Capacity + and Connect +
– DMR Tier III
– Hytera XPT
– Single-Channel DMR
– NXDN 4800 and 9600
– EDACS ProVoice
The big thing to note with the above is that the upgrade options may not be available at the time of release of the scanner itself. So even if you get your hands on one of these in the early stages just remember you may need to wait for a period of time until you can monitor the above on it. (Us Aussies and Kiwis are VERY used to waiting..and waiting…and waiting..and waiting).

In plain text for everyone, here are some of the initial specifications at the present time, it should be noted that actual production units may vary slightly.

  • Customizable Color Display
  • Trunktracker X
  • APCO P25 Phase I and II
  • Motorola, EDACS, and LTR Trunking
  • MotoTRBO Capacity + and Connect +**
  • DMR Tier III**
  • Hytera XPT**
  • Single-Channel DMR**
  • NXDN 4800 and 9600**
  • EDACS ProVoice**
  • Location-Based Scanning
  • USA/Canada Radio Database
  • ZIP Code Selection for Easy Setup
  • Close Call™ RF Capture with Do Not Disturb
  • 8 GB microSD
  • Soft Keys for Intelligent UI
  • Recording, Playback, and Replay
  • Temporary Avoid
  • Fire Tone-Out Alert
  • System Analysis and Discovery
  • CTCSS/DCS/NAC/RAN/Color Code Decoding
  • S.A.M.E. Weather Alert
  • Enhanced Dynamic Memory
  • Preemptive Trunking Priority
  • Fully Customizable Scanning with your own Favorites Lists
  • Backlit Keypad
  • Channel Volume Offset
  • PC Programming and Control
  • USB Connectivity and Charging
  • Weekly Database Updates
  • Free Sentinel Software keeps the SDS100 database and memory up to date
  • Up to 8 Hours Operation on included LiIon Battery
  • Frequency Coverage:
    • 25-512 MHz
    • 758-824 MHz
    • 849-869 MHz
    • 894-960 MHz
    • 1240-1300 MHz

*Note that this item has not yet received FCC approvals and may not be offered for sale.
** Paid Upgrade required. Upgrade might not be available upon initial release.

I’ll refrain from getting to wound up about the whole lack of support, upgrades and business politics we Aussies and Kiwis seem to continuously suffer from with our local UBCD436PT and UBCD536PT units. It’s just plain ridiculous, frustrating and frankly quite pathetic. Maybe this new unit might turn things around for us? (Who’s that laughing?!?)

I have always liked my Uniden scanners, however I’ve refrained from purchasing a x36HP or its local variant in part because of the above. Such was my frustration I actually purchased a Whistler TRX-1 via Zip Scanners (they were great to deal with) in the US and have thoroughly enjoyed getting what I can out of that. Both Zip Scanners and Whistler Group I feel have been very supportive, and I know I’m not the only one locally who thinks that. But I have to admit the new unit form Uniden looks the goods and has me interested, even more so if they start delivering on some the upgrade packages.

Whistler Group have hinted at something possibly around May.

The Uniden SDS100 looks great so far Uniden. For those interested a manual is available here: Uniden SDS100

Below are some of the videos UPMan has been kind enough to share. Although I’m sure some will accuse him of teasing us with them.



General news, updates and other observations.

Firstly let me commence by wishing you all a Merry Christmas, I hope you haven’t had to release your belt notch out to far as you recover from your food induced comas.

There has been quite a bit happening of late, and sadly for myself not much in the way of scanning due to a work promotion and the arrival of child no.2 four months ago.

Victoria Police rural communications update.

Back in August 2015 we reported on how Victoria Police was to migrate from their existing VHF Voting Network to a new system. You can read that particular article here: The AOR AR-DV1 & encryption looming for Victoria Police rural communications.

2008_04_16_P4058788CMax
Telstra has won the contract to supply and maintain radios and related equipment for Victoria Police in rural areas. The project will provide encrypted communications for all Police operations in those areas and give country based Police the security their big city brother and sisters have enjoyed for over 10 years now. Image courtesy of Chris Maxwell.

Last week it was announced that Telstra had won the contract to supply, install and maintain the new radios as part of a seven year deal. As many had speculated and advised, Victoria Police rural communications will migrate to the RMR Network and be encrypted.

Telstra in partnership with Motorola supplied and installed the RMR Network, initially for the Country Fire Authority, although there has always been plans to open the network up to other government users as part of a much bigger plan to lessen the amount of systems used by ESO’s and related entities.

As to which radio will be supplied that is still open to speculation and I understand there has been some evaluations being undertaken. News reports advise more than 8000 radios for Victoria Police, Victoria State Emergency Services, Life Saving Victoria and Corrections Victoria will be rolled out as part of the deal.

A news release from Premier Andrews states the following;

The Andrews Labor Government is replacing outdated and unsafe police and emergency services radios to help them safely and effectively fight crime and respond to emergencies.Minister for Police Lisa Neville and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino today announced a seven-year contract with Telstra to upgrade police and emergency services radio equipment.

The new radio equipment will replace outdated analogue systems with new secure, encrypted digital equipment providing better voice clarity, coverage and the capability to track the location of devices, improving member safety and response times.

Importantly, the new radios will stop communications being intercepted by the public through a smartphone app or scanner.

The contract delivers on an election commitment and provides more than 8000 radios for Victoria Police, Victoria State Emergency Services, Life Saving Victoria and Corrections Victoria, and can be expanded to provide radio support services for other Government agencies.

Work is underway upgrading the radio towers with further work on key base infrastructure in early next year enabling the roll out of the in car and hand held radios from middle of 2017.

The Labor Government invested $11.5 million in the 2015/16 Victorian State Budget for police to upgrade to the new digital system, with further funding realised through efficiencies made by moving to the new digital system.

The Minister for Police Lisa Neville was quoted as saying; “After four years of inaction by the former Liberal Government we’ve got on with the job of delivering for country police and ensuring they have the modern resources they need to catch criminals safely and effectively.”

“The safety of Victorian Police is our highest priority and we’re making sure that the public can’t listen in on police operations and they have the right tools to catch criminals.”

Whilst the Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino said; “We’re providing our emergency services personnel with the resources they need to effectively respond to emergencies and keep Victorians safe.”

“This sophisticated technology is more secure, has better voice clarity, will reduce the risk of communication failures and improve safety for our emergency services personnel and the community.”

I’d be expecting a dual band radio, particularly for the Police, to permit operation on both the RMR Network (VHF) and the MMR Network (UHF). The same may be a possibility for the State Emergency Service, and whilst not mentioned in recent reports also Ambulance Victoria. This would fix some of the issues raised from the Royal Commission in to the Black Saturday fires of 2009 relating to radio supply and operation of such by Victoria Police members sent to assist.

In short vehicles from Metropolitan areas with MMR radios fitted were obviously useless in the rural area where there were no MMR towers and in some cases the Officers were supplied rural radios to use instead yet were unfamiliar with the radio type and its operation. Time will tell.

If the transition to the RMR Network for country police is anything like that to the MMR Network, well over 10 years ago, for their big city brothers and sisters then I’d be expecting the old existing network to run parallel to their allocations on the RMR Network for a period of time. Then we’d probably see the old VHF Voting allocations ‘re-tooled’ then possibly absorbed in to the RMR Network for use. Much like they did with the old 467/468/469MHz UHF allocations on the MMR Network.

Uniden Australia, Pacific Telecommunications, the UBCD436-PT / UBCD536-PT & BCD325P2-AU.

So as many who are familiar with the above mentioned units these are not sold directly by Uniden Australia, they are instead sold under licence by Pacific Telecommunications and are the ‘local’ version of the BCD436HP & BCD536HP units sold by Uniden America.

Many would also be familiar how there was no real set plan to release local units initially by Uniden Australia, for whatever reason or debate, until came the time the Country Fire Authority set about wanting to replace some widely used Motorola branded ‘listening sets’ (scanner damn it!) used by its members. The consideration for such units for its members was due to the CFA’s migration to the RMR Network and EOI’s were called. From that ‘local’ versions of the BCD#36HP units were born, with the expected UBCD prefix.

There was an embargo date put in place until the public could obtain a unit, one would suspect to ensure CFA members wanting a unit had first preference. I’m told this was not the case, but no real explanation or reasoning has ever been provided for the date embargo.

So now we come to the reason of my touching on the above units again.

Uniden America some time ago released a paid DMR upgrade option of its BCD#36 family of units (May 2017 article). Now earlier this month Uniden America also announced the same upgrade option for its BCD996P2 and BCD325P2 units.

bcd325p2-au
The BCD325P2-AU shown here retains the ‘BCD’ prefix of US units, a move away from the usual ‘UBCD’ we’re used to seeing locally. Instead the units designation in ends in ‘AU’, obviously denoting Australia. (Image supplied courtesy of Jim of Ozscan).

Whilst the BCD996P2 was never released on the market here in Australia or New Zealand the BCD325P2 was released locally as the BCD325P2-AU.

bcd325p2-au-b
A simplistic label on the rear of the BCD325P2-AU is the only visible means to denote that the unit differs slightly from the US BCD325P2 units. (Image supplied courtesy of Jim of Ozscan).

We, like some others, are assured that Uniden Australia are negotiating and working behind the scenes to procure and release the paid DMR upgrade option for the UBCD436-PT and UBCD536-PT units, there has been no mention if this will include an upgrade path for the BCD325P2-AU.

While we’re discussing the ability to upgrade units to DMR capable units Uniden, can we please sort out that ridiculous issue  Australian owners of US units have faced that in order to procure the upgrade option you have to have a credit card registered to a US address. Absolutely ridiculous and not ideal at all, whilst some have found a way around the issue (virtual credit cards and the like) it just simply is not good enough.

If the whole credit card fiasco is due to limiting potential exposure to credit card fraud I think you may find the US leads Australia in credit fraud. A recent Nilson Report confirms this and goes on to state; ‘the U.S. currently accounts for 47% of global credit and debit card fraud even though it generates only 27% of the total volume of purchases and cash’. But I digress, it is what is.

ACMA Online Database ‘warning’ note.

I recently visited the ACMA online database to quickly chase something up and noted a ‘warning’ has appeared on the search page. acma_logo

Visitors to the page are now seeing this: ‘WARNING: Searching Assignments by Site Postcodes or Site Postcode ranges is now deprecated. [See explanation on this Help Page]’.

When you visit the help page a further explanation is provided and states;

‘Postcode information is no longer being added for new Sites or maintained for existing Sites and current Register searches that allow searching Sites by postcodes or postcode ranges are now deprecated in this Register. Register searches that allow searching Sites by postcodes will be removed from the Register in the near future and replaced with an alternative search.’

Whilst I’m not sure what the ‘Sites Postcodes’ or ‘Site Postcode’ search function will be replaced with it will be a shame if it gets replaced with something that isn’t as informative or is open to interpretation. There are already a few ways to ‘hide’ allocations and it will be a shame if another one creeps in.

Whistler releases TRX-1 & TRX-2 scanners with DMR.

Greetings yet again,

Well within hours of our posting our last blog article regarding Uniden’s announcement of their plans to introduce a DMR capability to their existing top-tier range of scanners Whistler fired back with an announcement of their own.

Whistler TRX-1 Handheld (a)
Presenting the TRX-1 with DMR, looking very much like its predecessor the WS1088.

Whistler plan on not only offering an upgrade option for several of their existing units, just like Uniden, but have also announced two new unit types, those being the TRX-1 handheld with a case looking very much like the existing WS1088 and a desktop/mobile version in the TRX-2 looking much like the WS1098 the ‘TRX’ denoting ‘Turbo Receive’.

Whistler Group is also offering a free upgrade of the two new units to include NXDN monitoring which is currently under development and expected to be available at this stage towards the end of the year.

The existing unit types that will be offered a free DMR upgrade are the WS1080, WS1088, WS1095 and the WS1098.

The upgrade to the existing unit line will be available by Whistler’s EZ Scan PC application later this month. That is a very generous offer in my opinion!

The new units, along with the existing ones when they receive the DMR upgrade, will be able to monitor the following DMR protocols;

Conventional DMR (entered as a DMR trunked system);
Hytera XPT;
MotoTRBO™ Capacity Plus;
MotoTRBO™ Connect Plus;
MotoTRBO™ Linked Capacity Plus.

Of course there is also the expected APCO P25 Phase I and II, Motorola, EDACS and LTR.

Whistler TRX-2 Deskktop-Mobile
The TRX-2 from Whistler Group.
Whistler TRX-1 -TRX-2 & WS1098
Whistler shows of the hardware at Hamvention 2016.

As for the cost of the two new units on offer that already come with DMR and will be offered a free NXDN upgrade when available the following has been announced by Whistler, the TRX-1 Handheld is listed as $649.00 (USD) and the TRX-2 Desktop/Mobile is listed as $729.00 (USD).

At the current USD to AUD exchange rate (for Sunday 22nd May, 2016) we’re looking at approximately $899.01 for the TRX-1 and $1009.84 for the TRX-2.

Whistler has the new TRX-1 and TRX-2 models in transit to suppliers as we type this with units expected to be available for purchase in June, 2016.

Uniden announces DMR capability for BCD536HP & BCD436HP series.

imagesUniden America has finally announced it plans to introduce the ability to monitor DMR systems, including Motorola’s MotoTRBO. HOORAY!

The ability to monitor the aforementioned protocol will at this stage only be offered on their flagship range of scanners, those being the BCD536HP and BCD436HP models. Now whether that includes the Australian versions in the local Pacific Telecommunications variants, the UBCD436-PT & UBCD536-PT which was offered to Victorian CFA members, I’m unsure. I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t, but remember, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Those familiar with my ramblings on this blog may recall how disappointed I was when these units were announced back in November, 2013 without the ability to monitor DMR, along with NXDN. (https://vicradiozone.com/2013/11/17/uniden-bcd436hp-bcd536hp-offically-launched/) Given how rapidly DMR usage has grown in numerous countries I found its lack of inclusion perplexing.

The ability for the aforementioned units to monitor DMR will come as a firmware upgrade for a cost, just as Uniden did recently with its ‘ProVoice’ upgrade for EDACS systems.

Uniden has also announced that early subscribers for the firmware upgrade option will receive said upgrade at a cost of $50.00 (USD). No word yet on what the final cost would be for those who don’t take up the ‘early bird’ special.

Should you choose to take Uniden up on their paid firmware upgrade offer your unit would then have the following protocols open to it;

Existing – Conventional Analog channels
Existing – Conventional P25 Digital channels
Existing – Motorola Type I and Type II Trunked Radio systems with Analog and Digital (P25) Voice
Existing – EDACS Analog trunked radio systems
Existing – LTR Analog trunked radio systems
Existing – APCO Project 25 Phase I and Phase II Digital Trunked Radio systems
Existing – EDACS trunked radio systems + Upgrade Option – with ProVoice channels (paid ProVoice upgrade required)
Upgrade Option – Conventional Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) channels (paid DMR upgrade required)
Upgrade Option – MotoTRBO Capacity Plus Trunked Radio systems (paid DMR upgrade required)
Upgrade Option – MotoTRBO Connect Plus Trunked Radio Systems (paid DMR upgrade required)

I can’t help but feel there were a few clues offered on the net that this may have finally been happening. One of those is an email that was initially doing the rounds on a certain YahooGroup which was later to be deleted from the groups servers. However it had been seen by several people before its removal and the author of said email discussed some DMR results on his BCD436HP.

Secondly was Paul Opitz seeking some assistance in using DSD+ on RadioReference. Perhaps to check some data, compare results, and identify where to seek various DMR data string characteristics such as Digital Colour Codes and such?

Lastly was the recent addition of the EDACS ProVoice upgrade, I started to suspect that if they could do that with these units, there may be more looming. Guess we’ll have to stay tuned for the NXDN upgrade huh?

A big congratulations to Uniden on finally getting this option in to some of it units. I think it is long overdue and a fantastic addition to their units.

Hamvention is coming up and with it was the expectation Uniden were set to announce something special, perhaps the early announcement is to get the jump on Whistler Group who are also expected to make some sort of announcement.

You can read more details about Uniden’s announcement here: http://info.uniden.com/twiki/bin/view/UnidenMan4/DigitalMobileRadioUpgrade

The AOR AR-DV1 & encryption looming for Victoria Police rural communications.

It has been some time since our last article and needless to say plenty has been happening.

AOR AR-DV1

AOR launched their AOR AR-DV1 Receiver. In the following weeks there appeared to be mixed reviews on various forums as to the performance of the receiver.

The receiver covers the following digital modes;
– D-Star Narrowband only. Data mode not supported.
– Alinco Only with digital unit EJ-47U (Voice mode F1E)
– Yaesu V/D mode only
– Digital CR AMBE+2 systems only
– NXDN 6.25KHz mode only
– dPMR dPMR446 and Tier 1 mode only.
– P25 Unencrypted and conventional mode only.
– DMR Tier 1 and Tier modes only unencrypted.

Some of the initial performance concerns appear to have been rectified by subsequent firmware updates, however some users still appear aggrieved by the lack of certain functionality and information not displayed on certain modes they’d expect to be able to see, such as colour codes and slot usage details.

As expected there is no ability to follow trunking networks built-in to the unit. This may eventually follow suit with some other AOR products in that an ‘add on option’ can be installed at some point though.

Whilst on the subject of trunking, please stop using as an excuse that this is a ‘receiver’ and not a ‘scanner’ as an argument for the lack of built-in trunking ability. That has never been an argument of any great strength for many years now.

Whilst I have yet to use one of these receivers myself I’m unable to comment on how it would handle local conditions here in Australia. I do think we need to give credit to AOR though for creating such a unit in this format that takes the initial steps in having available a unit on the market that can cover some of the modes that are growing in use.

I know here in my hometown of Melbourne, some of those modes are widespread and continue to grow in use.

Some of those modes have been in use for some time now and it was hoped we’d see them in Uniden’s BCD436HP and BCD536HP, however some, me for one, were left disappointed when they weren’t.

vrz-aor-ar-dv1-vrz
AOR have announced the AR-DV1 which delivers the ability to monitor DMR and NXDN, but without the ability to trunk track.

So whilst the AR-DV1 appears to have its faults at least it is providing hope and we know they’re working on it. Hopefully Uniden are now spurred on a little and are working on making our dreams come true? Please, pretty please?

Victoria Police rural operations to be encrypted by 2017

By far the biggest news in Victoria for the scanning hobbyist is that Victoria Police are moving to an encrypted communications system for its rural operations.

Whilst it was inevitable, I can’t help but feel we have only ourselves in part to blame for the decision to hasten the project so it happens sooner rather than later.

The planned move to an encrypted communications network will mean that Victorian Police Officers based in rural country areas will finally have secure communications, well over 10 years since their metropolitan & greater Geelong area brothers and sisters were afforded such a system in the Metropolitan Mobile Radio (MMR) Network.

Whilst Victoria Police started planning long ago for the replacement of its existing analogue VHF Voting Network, and its accompanying access to the StateNet Mobile Radio (SMR) Network based on MPT1327 trunking protocols, it received a massive boost in momentum during the last election.

2008_09_09_IMG_6534CMaxwell

Over recent years there has been an increase in unauthorised, and lets face it, moronic, individuals programming transmit capable equipment and either blocking Police Officers transmissions or simply swearing, playing music, challenging and insulting Police as they attempt to go about their duties.

All the above are issues that were once also encountered by Police Officers in the Metropolitan areas when they utilised the old National UHF 64 Channel allocation. However the issue of unauthorised users on the network was virtually eradicated once they moved to the MMR Network as each radio needs to be ‘authorised’ to access the system and in order to be able to transmit on it.

The other matter that has caused great concern amongst Officers is the emergence of numerous Smartphone apps that stream webcasts of individual’s scanner streams, which in most instances will include the Victoria Police frequencies.

There are some who would argue this is no different to carrying a portable scanner about, however it is obvious there is a little more to it in that Smartphone’s are used by a far greater number of the general public than what scanners are and as such there would be a hell of a lot more people now with access to Police communications.

The above matter was really bought to the fore during one particular Police incident, a pursuit in October 2014.

The pursuit lasting several hours, involving at least 4 carjackings and involving at one point as many as 30 Police vehicles, 2 Police helicopters and covered some 300 odd kilometers was listened to by nearly 9,000 people according to some media reports and statements. It has been stated in that most of those listeners were on Smartphone apps, however we need to acknowledge somewhere in there was a scanner or SDR dongle feeding those apps. Also it could be argued that a fair amount of those 9,000 listeners were also listening to via the comfort of the internet stream on their work and home computer.

Whatever way you try to group or breakdown the figures, it was a lot of listeners for one incident and doesn’t include the bloke in his radio shack, truck, car, or lounge room with a scanner.

Victoria went to the elections in November 2014 and with it a promise by Labor to give country Police secure communications. In short Labor won, and shortly thereafter the announcement that the wheels of encryption were turning a little faster. Labor announced in the 2015 budget $11.5 million in new funding and Victoria Police announced the 2007_02_04_P4028685CMaxwellredirection $23.8 million from their existing budget and planned upkeep of the existing radio network, as well as funds they’d been allocating to any new proposed system they were looking to build for the future.

It is planned for the new system to be implemented in its entirety by January 2017.

It is speculated we will in essence see an expanded Rural Mobile Radio (RMR) Network. This network was initially built for and is currently managed by the Country Fire Authority on behalf of the State Government. Eventually the management of this network will pass to the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) just as the MMR Network.

It is envisaged that other Government entities, such as the SES, Ambulance Victoria (Rural), Corrections Victoria as well as Surf Life Saving Victoria will also access the RMR Network.

The RMR Network is identical to the MMR Network albeit based on VHF frequencies as opposed to UHF which is what the MMR utilises. Both share the same system ID and are based on P25 protocols.

Victoria Police moving to a new communications network is a lot more though than just stopping unauthorised persons accessing their communications, it is also about rectifying some of the identified shortcomings highlighted during Royal Commission into the Black Saturday fires of February 2009.

In particular interoperability issues such as those outlined by the Police Association of Victoria to the Commission on behalf of its members under ‘SYSTEMIC ISSUES – COMMUNICATIONS.”

Some of the points of concern and issues highlighted included;

“The Commission has heard a considerable amount of evidence from police in the field on 7 February about the difficulties they experienced communicating with each other and their respective communication centres. It is clear from that evidence that such difficulties were life-threatening both for police and those they helped. The uncontradicted evidence before the Commission is that such difficulties were caused by, amongst other things, the schism between police rural and urban radio networks and the scattered call-taking and dispatch facilities.’

“It is likely that such difficulties would not have arisen if two of the main initiatives supported by SIPSaCs had been met: (a) the establishment of multi-agency virtual call-taking and dispatch facilities in metropolitan and regional Victoria to service the entire State; (b) the provision of a common digital mobile voice communications system that is accessible to all public safety organisations throughout the State (in particular common to police).”2009_03_08_IMG1578CMaxwell

“Instead, on 7 February 2009 police in the field had to deal with the inability of SMR radios to communicate with MMR radios and vice-versa as well as delays caused by scattered manual call taking and dispatch facilities.’

“Superintendent Billing gave evidence that for the 2009-2010 fire season Victoria Police had put no measures in place to deal with the radio communication problems experienced by police in the field on 7 February 2009. He explained that in some cases when police from Melbourne were provided with analogue radios, the radios wouldn’t work for want of a “repeater”. The members to whom these radios were provided weren’t necessarily aware of the need for a repeater because they were used to using digital radios. This is a significant risk in circumstances where an emergency requires the deployment of members from urban locations into rural areas where the technology may be incompatible. He agreed with the proposition that such a situation was ‘downright dangerous”.

“The Chief Commissioner, Mr. Overland, gave evidence that the lack of radio resources and the inherent problems experienced by police as a consequence in the field on 7 February could occur again. He agreed with Superintendent Billing’s assertion that police from metropolitan areas who were temporarily relocated to rural areas to assist with `local’ emergency response could not be provided with analogue portable radios to facilitate their contact with the relevant communications centre because Victoria Police possessed insufficient radios.”

In May of 2015 Victoria Police made public their fears that criminals may have been listening to unencrypted Police communicators to locate possible firearms to steal. Chief commissioner Tim Cartwright revealed rural firearm officers had stopped radioing in their locations when conducting safety and licence checks for fear thieves were using the information heard to note addresses and details of where firearms may be found.

So there you have it folks, it’s happening and our days of listening to Victoria Police are coming to an end. If you’re desperate you could always dial up the odd Victoria Police HF frequency and wait for the odd transmission, you may need a lot of patience though.