Tag Archives: RMR Network

Victorian Government Operational Communications Program Update & other matters

Hi All,

It’s been far too long since our last article, but that’s what happens when you have work, a wife and kids to consider. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had to contend with all of the above whilst still trying to have a hobby.

Victorian Government Emergency Management Operational Communications Program

As most will know the initial deadline for Victoria Police in rural areas to go encrypted on an expanded RMR Network has passed. It was an ambitious date to begin with and those who have worked in government circles will realise that.

Also let’s remember it was a timeline that was initially set during an election when point scoring between parties is at fever pitch.

Once the waters settle a little and everyone who has a stake in such a project has their say, formulates business cases, does their feasibility tests, runs tenders, sources suppliers etc. a more realistic, and attainable timeline tends to be seen and in most cases differs from what was originally stated.

This is a massive project! It is never an easy task trying to get everyone on the same page, so I don’t think we should be too surprised that we didn’t see Victoria Police in rural areas running digital encrypted on the RMR Network by July, 2017. You have to remember the original timeline announcement was set in April 2015, for a project of this size that isn’t a big window.

If it was just Victoria Police involved in the project and moving to an already long-established system then I think they would’ve achieved it. But the reality is there are many other entities involved in such a project and they’re moving to a relativity new system that needs to be expanded in order to cater to several agencies and be at a certain operational readiness in the desired areas before switch-over.

An expanded RMR Network will see the remaining four CFA Districts in the Metropolitan Fire District (Districts 7, 8, 13 & 14) migrate to the network.

The RMR Network has already started to expand and we should see just over 235+ sites when done, up from 199 sites. Some of these new sites will permit the outer Country Fire Authority brigades in the outer Metropolitan areas (Districts 7, 8, 13 & 14) to finally migrate across to the RMR Network like the rest of the agency.

An interesting note is that some time ago I was advised that the Sheriff’s Office of Victoria (SOV) was halting plans to migrate across to the RMR Network in order to do an internal review and assessment of their future communication needs.

If you have a read through some of the initial documentation and announcements SOV were part of the ‘master plan’ of inclusion and even had funds allocated to them for the exercise. However the recent revived timeline announcement doesn’t include them. I believe you will find as it stands at present they’re out of the project altogether for now, which means they may need to hand back some money to Emergency Management Victoria they received in order to budget the project at agency level under the ACMA Compliance project. Time will tell.

Motorola APX series radios are expected for Victoria Police in rural areas and Corrections Victoria.

There was a post by a user on the ‘Aussie Scanners’ forum back in July 2017 stating he’d suddenly noticed a few of his local Police carrying Tait portables and not their usual Motorola radios. I believe you’ll find some Tait units were loaned to Victoria Police via another agency for trial and testing purposes, however don’t expect to see Tait rolled out for Victoria Police. I believe you will find Motorola will be supply new radios to Victoria Police, Corrections Victoria (CV) and possibly the State Emergency Service (SES).

Victoria Police and SES will in all probability get some dual band assets, not all radios will be dual band, but expect some areas to have access to such, this will permit roaming between the two networks. I’m uncertain where AV (Rural) is at for the moment, dual band radios were touted for them as a possibility at one stage I believe. We should see only Victoria Police and CV will run encryption on their talkgroups and enjoy some nice new Motorola APX units as well as some

Surf Life Saving Victoria is still in the picture and expected to migrate with Kenwood radios.

Also of note regarding government communications is the current situation for Vicroads and its various operational departments such as  Works, Incident Response Service (IRS), Transport Safety Services (TSS) and the Traffic Management Centre (TMC).

Vicroads at present is not part of any network migration plans, which is quite interesting in my opinion. They are a government department and are existing users of a radio system, they also play a very large and vital role in keeping the road network humming along and dealing with all sorts of matters and incidents on the road network.

Vicroads used to use a very extensive radio system several decades ago with one of the greatest coverage footprints of any government department across the state at the time, some might even argue it actually surpassed elements of Victoria Police’s then VHF and later UHF network. So what happened?

I’m told that in short a certain Premier back in the 90’s envisioned that as cost saving exercise they could sell and dismantle the system and migrate to the then VHF SMR Network (based on MPT1327 protocol) which was in its early years of operation, which is pretty much what occurred. However some UHF allocations were retained for use in Metropolitan areas and the final one of those UHF frequencies was vacated only a couple of years ago.

Vicroads TSS Officers appear a little more fortunate with their current radio access than their IRS and Works colleagues.

Not long after the disastrous Black Saturday fires of 2007 there was some concern regarding their works depots lack of access to radio infrastructure and that of the Transport Safety Services (TSS) and Incident Response Service (IRS) should they need to allocate resources in to disaster affected areas outside of the metropolitan area, and they realised they couldn’t just have crews relying on mobile phone networks for obvious reasons. The TSS are bit more fortunate in this regard in that most, if not all, of their units also have access to the VHF SMR Network for rural operations and UHF for metropolitan operations in addition to MDT access. However the IRS and Works Department don’t appear as fortunate.

Things seemed to get a little worse only a few years back when they had to vacate the last of the UHF allocations of which the IRS were big users of. This also meant that some work depot crews also lost access to radio communications. The TSS were lucky in that they could fallback to the SMR Network.

I believe with the passage of time there may have been some administration matters that required them to forgo the last UHF frequency allocated for their voice communications, happy to be corrected if anyone can shed some further light on the matter.

Vicroads now find themselves on a leased UHF frequency, which incidentally if I’m correct is licensed to a chap who was instrumental in setting up the rather large radio network Vicroads used to own and operate that I mentioned above.

Surely one would think they have a good business case for access to the MMR and RMR Network? Whilst I understand they are not necessarily classed as an ESO, given the role they play on our vital roads infrastructure in time of fires, accidents, natural disasters and major incidents & events and their very regular liaison with various ESO’s they would be better serviced, as would the State and its population, they should be using the MMR and / or RMR Network?

Late last year a very limited user trial was held for several weeks in order to test some 1.8Ghz LTE technology based on a Sonim XP7 handset. The Sonim XP7 was loaded up with TASSTA PTT Software.

The Sonim XP7 handset & cradle (only) being trialed by Vicroads with TASSTA PTT software.

TASSTA software can include the functionalities of digital radio and smartphones combined. Included can be Group and Individual calls, Priority call via Push-to-Talk as well as many other additional features such as Messaging and Data transfer such as files and images, status messages, encryption, history and voice recording, GPS, emergency calls with full-duplex-mode, remote control (picture and voice), Man-Down, alarm, ID management and time tracking.

After the initial and brief limited user trial it was decided to try a trial on a larger scale, this commenced around the end of June 2017 and was intended to last for 3 months or so, so you would’ve noted the leased UHF frequency falling silent. The trial was to include the TMC, Works, TSS and IRS. It looks however as if the trial has come to halt in parts due to a number of factors. One of those being some friendly advice in regards to the legalities around the ‘use handheld device whilst driving’ rules and regulations. From this I’m assuming that the trial did not include a full fit-out of the communications package featured in the image and possibly just the cradle and handled device itself. Again if anyone can shed further light on the matter I’d be interested to hear it.

I believe there may have been another minor matter pertaining to the durability of aspects of the device, however I’ve been unable to confirm if those are device related or end-user practice related.

Around 2014 Simoco was awarded a tender by Vicroads to supply new radio hardware (based on the SRM9000 series) which included a P25 upgradeable solution. So surely access to either one or both of the States P25 networks is not that unattainable or questionable and would allow for everyone’s favourite phrase since the events of Black Saturday, enhanced interoperability.

A few months ago the below message was sent to me via the site and from someone  called ‘billy’. Below is the message from ‘billy’;

all a waste of time i use a prop mtorolla radio with all tac and repeaters on all ditital emergency frequencys you will never be able to acess or listen to what i do mobile or base not even god ha ha ha hacker on the loose f### your pi##y scanners cant encrypt nothing waste of money ,out

Billy it is so hard to argue with such well researched, composed and intelligent arguments such as yours.  But I’ll give it go, please see below for my response, also remember ‘billy’ you’re not as invisible as you think on the internet. 😉

A special message for ‘billy’. Thanks for your input to the hobby.

Morons playing with radios

Obviously big news of late in the hobby pertains to an event that occurred only the day before the State Government outlined it’s new expected migration date for the Victoria Police to the RMR Network and with it network security and encryption. I am of course referring to the incident outlined at the following links;

Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 1
Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 2
Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 3
Read this: Victoria Police – Radio Pirate Article 4

Below is a recording of the communications during the above highlighted pursuit and transmissions by a ‘radio pirate’ on the Victoria Police VHF Voting Network. The recording commences shortly after an armed robbery involving firearm. Victoria Police Highway Patrol members from call-sign ‘Wellington 613’ are heard locating a vehicle possibly involved and then engaging in a pursuit of the vehicle. Examples of some of the subsequent illegal transmissions by unknown persons can be heard initially at 6min & 19secs, 6min & 30secs and again at 8mins & 37secs mark of the recording. Further transmissions occur throughout the event and subsequent file.

Its a long file but worth preserving as an example of just one of the reason why Victoria Police in rural areas need to migrate to a secure network just like their metropolitan brothers and sisters did 12 years or so ago. File kindly supplied by Anonymous.

This is not the first time such an incursion on to the Police radio network has occurred. An example is in the below ACMA article from 2011.
Read this: ACMA Blog Article 2011

Below is an audio file recorded during an ACMA investigation in to pirate radio transmissions in 2013 on the Victoria Police VHF Voting Network. An ACMA callsign is heard requesting a radio-check and channel identification clarification.

Before the courts in recent times we’ve also had the following;

Read this: Melbourne Airport Hoax Radio Transmissions Article 1
Read this: Melbourne Airport Hoax Radio Transmissions Article 2
Read this: Melbourne Airport Hoax Radio Transmissions Article 3

Is it any wonder some people scowl at scanner and radio owners at times? Your average Joe can’t really differentiate between a serious hobbyist, casual listener and some wanker who acts in a manner that screws up the scene even more. All of the above examples solidifies many agencies and entities push to secure and encrypted systems and their already twisted view on the hobby.

I’ll leave it at that for now, if anyone has any information they’d like to share or advise of then drop us line.

Happy Scanning!

Where are the RMR radio ID’s?

Morning All,

Well it seems many are missing having access to the RMR Network RiD’s and I’ve received many messages asking for them.

Originally I intended on having them all on one page, like I used to for the MMR Network RiD’s, but the sheer number of RiD’s and the amount of data on one page made the page extremely sluggish and slow to load.

So from there I moved them to each having their own page, which in turn required more pages to try and keep updated, the task made even harder given the dynamics of the RMR Network and ESO operations.

I’m currently sharing my CFA RMR Network RiD’s data with Jim from Ozscan and I’ll look at having a simple text document for download, mind you at present I simply do not have the time to update it.

Happy New Year to all.

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.

Possible changes to the MMR Network and a new customer.

It has been well over 10 years since the MMR Network was first introduced to Victoria with the initial contracts signed between the Victorian Government and Motorola in 2004. The contract called for a fully operational date of 2006, just in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games that Melbourne hosted. The MMR Network was to replace 3 analogue UHF systems then used by Victoria Police, Metropolitan Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

The MMR Network has consistently achieved or exceeded its required levels of availability and has been a success, despite what you read on the internet by some chap that heard from his postman, who happened to talk to his wife’s friend who worked for Telstra and had daughter who dated a guy with a CB Radio. It’s done it, time and time again.

Motorola Quantar formed the backbone of the initial MMR Network.

The original remote site equipment, consisting of P25 Phase I (FDMA) Motorola Quantar Intelligent Site Repeaters, each a 19″ rack unit weighing approximately 25kg, was upgraded during the 2013 – 2014 period to Motorola GTR8000’s.

The Motorola GTR8000 which replaced the Quantar in MMR Network sites during 2013-2014.

With the upgrade to the GTR8000 came the ability of Phase II (TDMA) operation, software upgrade to core switching equipment, migration to a full IP architecture including all dispatch consoles, a new high-availability IP-based logging service to capture voice radio transmissions and the ability of inter-operating with all other Phase 2 enabled networks.

For those unfamiliar with how a trunking system works it is in short a computer controlled system that allows the sharing of radio frequency channels among a group of users.

Further information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trunked_radio_system

Now ever since the MMR Network was first designed the Victoria Police was very adamant that any voice frequency they used had to be partitioned from other users of the network. The main reason they did this was a measure towards ensuring that no radio of theirs was ever queued and left waiting for an available talk frequency. Queuing is obviously not what you want in event of a major incident with a multitude of talk-groups being used by resources combating said incident.

Subsequently other uses of the network did the same as Victoria Police. There have basically been three different pools of ‘talk frequencies’ sitting in the system, one for each entity using the MMR Network.

Whilst this might help to ensure a low ‘queued call rate’, it is not really making good use of the frequencies and could mean agencies possibly missing out on radio resources (talk frequencies / talk-groups) when needed and available as they may not be being used by the other agencies.

There are features built in to the system to minimise ‘queued calls’.

So now here we are in 2016 and over the last few years a much clearer path has been laid in regards to the direction that the State of Victoria’s existing and future radio systems are to take, some of it in part due to the disastrous events of 2007 during what has become known as ‘Black Saturday’.

Probably the most recent of those changes that many would be familiar with is in the new RMR Network currently in use by much of the Country Fire Authority. It is near identical to the MMR Network however based on VHF for rural operations.

Another change has been the inclusion of another frequency for use by the states paging network known as the Emergency Alerting System (EAS).

The main change for the MMR Network is the possibility of a new user migrating to it, that being the State Emergency Service metropolitan units, not to be confused with their country units who are apparently earmarked for migration to the RMR Network.

That brings me to the second possible change for the MMR Network and one I touched on earlier in this post, frequency partitions.

Recently I noted a few MMR Network sites running with un-partitioned frequencies, meaning VicPol, Ambulance Victoria and MFB are all sharing the sites allocated ‘talk frequencies’ for their talk-groups, just as Motorola originally designed the system for.

So far the un-partitioned frequency operations has been noted on the Chadstone and Surrey Hills (SiD 0164h-0109) simulcast sites with reports of this also possibly occurring on Keilor (SiD 0164h-0203) and the Epping and Greensborough (SiD 0164h-0113) simulcast sites. There has been talk of a further site which I’m yet to confirm (due to distance) such activity on and that this may have been ongoing since late 2015.

With the changing face of Victoria’s communication systems it would appear that the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), who manage the MMR Network on behalf of the state and will also do the same eventually for the RMR Network, are looking to free up capacity.

If they wanted to increase capacity on the MMR Network by adding additional frequencies there would be hefty price to pay one would imagine, and at a guess I’m tipping that it is cheaper to remove partitions to free up the capacity already actually there, just not being used smartly, than add to it.

Knowing how adamant that the one particular user of the MMR were for the partitions to be in place originally I’m tipping it was no easy feat to convince them to do otherwise and would’ve even taken a detailed study and report to back those wanting to undertake such practises.

If you’re after a bit of light reading you can get an idea of some of what is planned for the State of Victoria’s communication networks here:

Will we see a Uniden unit selected for CFA Volunteers?

There has been a lot of conjecture and discussion of late on some communication forums and those that are frequented by Country Fire Authority (CFA) Volunteers and Staff in relation to the planned new ‘listening sets’, so I’m going to add to all the conjecture! (Insert evil laughter soundtrack).

First and foremost can we please stop referring to them as ‘listening sets’? What decade are we in? Is anyone heading home in their horseless carriage to listen to the Top 40 on the wireless tonight? See what I mean?

Let’s try and use words like receiver, or scanner, like most people in the 21st Century do.

Expressions of Interest were released, discussions had, Request for Tenders released and subsequently rewritten by the looks to take into account future technology protocols, namely Phase II (TDMA) protocols.

Let’s break a few things down a little and try to sort out some of the possibilities.

It will in all probability be a handheld given they’re much easier to transport and carry around if need be. I’d be surprised if they offered a mobile/base unit given the limitations of portability and power requirements of that type.  There may however be a few possibly for use in a station environment or similar as a guess.

It will need to be able to be produced in large numbers given CFA claims of nearly 66,000 volunteers, although one would imagine that not every volunteer will want or need one, even so if only half of that number decided to purchase one that’s still nearly 33,000 units.

CFA LogoThe CFA Volunteers representative body the Volunteers Fire Brigades Victoria states in their position paper on the project that after an initial CFA purchase of 10,000 units of the former Motorola model in the 90’s that there may in fact be up to 21,000 of the former units in use. If this were true that is a fair amount of units that will need replacing. You can read their paper here: VFBV Position Paper – Listening Sets

By the way, I’m only adding this as a possibility of what may need to be catered for, I personally would be surprised, but pleased, if that many units were sold, but then again never say never.

The CFA is asking for an initial 2 units for reviewing and subsequent initial supply of 3,500 units. Although as with most things there may be some wriggle room and they may accept a few less units in the initial batch.

It will need to be able to have its profile upgraded as the CFA Channel Fleet-map and associated allocations evolve and change. How annoyed would you be if you forked out your dollars only to have the CFA change things further down the track and then 6 months after purchase the channel allocations are outdated and couldn’t be updated?

The same can be said for the fact it would appear they intend on using the receivers for monitoring of other emergency services. Which begs the question, will the State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers be offered the same deal as the CFA volunteers given they themselves may wind up on an expanded RMR Network and they can undertake like-minded activities in assisting and providing an ESO response to the community?

Obviously here I’m thinking along the lines of most current generation of scanners whereby you can simply upload updated profile by way of a computer and cable, or in some cases an SD card.

Ideally the unit should be from a company with a strong presence in Australia to support faults and failures and general product serviceability. Imagine how annoying, time-consuming and expensive it is going to be to have to send the unit overseas for repairs if it was a company with little to no presence in Australia. I think that would rule out Whistler/GRE and their current range of Phase II capable units.

The unit production is going to need to be cost-effective. Meaning it will be cheaper to modify an existing unit already under production for CFA use, if they can’t achieve this it means added cost to CFA Volunteers, the Government and subsequently the taxpayer.

I don’t see Motorola or Tait researching or modifying any of their existing gear to RX only and keeping the costs down per unit.  Yes, Motorola did do this in the past however Motorola equipment tends to be some very high-end gear and back when this previous project was undertaken it wasn’t as expensive to do given the more simplistic technology used, and Motorola did have the mainstay of supplying radio equipment to the CFA back then which would’ve made it more appealing to undertake.

bcd436hp
Will we see a variant of the Uniden BCD436HP as the preferred receiver for its volunteers?

Taking in to account what I’ve suggested above I’m tending to lean towards the already popular brand here in Australia (and worldwide for that matter), Uniden.

I’m thinking we just might see a local version of a unit already released nearly a year ago on the US, albeit here in Australia it is for a selected market only, namely those associated with the CFA and as such may have some CFA branding and ‘one offs’ so to speak.

However this may in turn mean a public release of the unit in the long run should all go well. Fingers crossed!

I do have concerns after reading the EOI and RFT published by the CFA whether they will totally achieve all functions and abilities they’re considering in the units, however I also feel on reading the documents that the CFA realise this.

If you have the means a review of the RFT document entitled “A.2 Attachment 1 Technical Specification”; states the following under Section 1.1 of the document and associated table;

Term Meaning or Definition
Must The required feature or function is mandatory
Should The required feature or function is desirable
Could The feature or function may be offered as an alternative or to enhance value
Will Not The feature or function is unacceptable.
ACMA Australian Communications and Media Authority
TGID Talk Group ID

So by using this table and on reading the CFA’s ‘function wish-list’ you start to see a few possible existing market units that whilst they don’t have all the bells and whistles initially intended they still in fact meet the intended basics of the desired unit.Page 5 of the same document I mentioned above has the following points in section;

“4. Air Interface”
“4.1 POCSAG Paging
The Monitor Receiver should be capable of receiving and decoding POCSAG paging messages at 512 bps. At least 6 CAP codes should be supported and be configurable by the user.”

and also of note is;

“4.6 P25 Paging
The receiver should support P25 paging and allow the user to configure the subscriber ID for paging.”

As you can see by the above two examples whilst the ability to perform the above is included in the wish list, by use of the word ‘should’ it is not a mandatory component. If they were mandatory the word ‘should’ would have the word ‘must’ in its place.The above two examples also appear to be the only two functions that can’t be met by the current generation of scanner I believe will be offered under this project, however this is negated by the use of the word ‘should’.

There you go, I’ve now added my bit of conjecture for some to ponder. 

Site updates, a discovery & a big THANKS!

RMR Network Info

Wow wow wow!

Let me just start this post by saying thank you to all who have been contributing to the RMR Network Sites information page.  I am in awe of the amount of people who have assisted with this, including several from interstate and rural Victorian areas. Thank you very much for your help.

As with any new network the hard part is trying to get a jump-start on getting some credible information together. I think we’ve managed to achieve that ten-fold and this will certainly assist many in getting a start on what they need to do to monitor this network or at least provide them with the initial tools and information they will be seeking as they learn.

It’s amazing to see how much the RMR Network Sites page has ‘bulked up’ over the last few months. For the record that page was first published by us at Vicradio Zone on the 08/08/2013 with a mere two sites being listed. Incredible how things can change when you get a dedicated bunch of enthusiasts together and give them a platform to share what they have.

We’re just four site towers away from having the Hume Region towers SiD’s and Control Channels sorted. Obviously we’re a little way off from finishing entirely yet though, but I think we’ll get there.

RMR Network UiD’s Info

We’re still working on this slowly and I’d like to thank those that have assisted in providing information where they can. One of the avenue of resources has permitted to me to confirm my own or others observations as a ‘third avenue of confirmation’ which assists in solidifying the information. Sunday evening (01/05/2014) we released another three pages of UiD/RiD’s with more to come. It’s a slow process but we will get there.

In regards to UiD/RiD’s we’ve changed how the this information is accessed. Initially we had all the information on one page, but the sheer amount of data tended to slow the page and site down, so in recent months each CFA District has received its own page.

If you’re looking for a particular UiD/RiD just use the sites search function located on the top right hand side of the site and that will take you to the relevant CFA District Page that the UiD should belong to if it is indeed recorded on the site.

MMR Network MFB / ESTA Discovery

As many would be aware there has long been two TGID’s that fall in the Victoria Police range of TGID’s that are used by ESTA for training of its staff assigned to Police Communications (VKC) operations. Those TGID’s being 1701 and 1702.

Recently ‘melbscan’ reported that he’d heard what sounded to be ESTA Console Operator training for MFB operations on two TGID’s that fall within the Metropolitan Fire Brigades allocation of TGID’s, those being 10060 and 10061. So program these up and have them handy!

Previously no activity has been noted on these TGID’s and they have sat amongst a group of approximately 17 TGID’s that we’ve long wondered what, if any, their use may be for. Those 17 TGID’s being;

10005 10006 10007 10008 10012 10022 10026 10030 10034 10038 10039 10040 10044 10050 10060 10061 10079.

I’m advised that ESTA possibly have access to several TGID’s for training of its operators that fall within the allocation of each service on the MMR Network, so there is a real possibility that ‘melbscan’ may have finally found those two TGID’s used by ESTA for ‘VKN8’ operator training and furthermore there could be a few amongst the Ambulance Victoria allocation range of TGID’s.

Until next time folks, happy scanning!
Vicradio Zone.

RMR Network Sites – An update & thanks.

Hi Folks!

Thanks to an extremely generous contribution from a follower of this site we’ve been able to commence a rather large update of the new RMR Network Sites currently being implemented throughout the state. Many familiar with this Network will be aware how in time it will become the primary communications system used by the Country Fire Authority, and some suspect other agencies in the future.

The contributor ‘FireScan’ has sat down and gone through the ACMA online database and gleaned the required frequencies and subsequently shared his work with us.

It’s going to take a little while to code up a suitable table for the information but the bulk of it is available under the relevant menu sections of the site, so feel free to have a look.

Please keep in mind the format of the information may change over time as we build and tidy up the table. Feel free to share any further details you feel may benefit readers of the site.

We need to be mindful that sections of the information may change as the sites are built and as the project continues to be rolled out.

We’re extremely grateful to FireScan for his hard work.