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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > SCIP Monthly Update September, 2009

SCIP Monthly Update September, 2009


September 14, 2009


State Interoperability Communications Coordinator

The results of the March workshops have been posted in the past issues of the newsletter if you would like to see these results please cut and paste the following link:

Just a note: I apologize for the confusion last month over the newsletter. I had to install Office 2007 to run a few programs and therefore I did not take into consideration that 2007 would not send it as a previous version. Thanks for having patience with me and the September Newsletter will be sent as a doc vs. a docx.

SOP Project

On August 27th MEMA met with Washington County and Piscataquis County on September 10th for an All Hazards Communications Plan project. These workshops were attended by key stakeholders within their Counties; a lot of information was obtained. The next County Workshop will be Penobscot on September 18th in Bangor.

Transit Survey:

On August 11th, MEMA sent out a survey to our partners. The specific focus is on transit organizations and entities to determine operability. Our goal is to develop a stakeholders group to ensure transit agencies interoperability issues are identified and a strategic plan to address them, we are currently reviewing the data and assembling a work group, thanks to all those that took the time to fill out this important survey, we will be contacting the prospective members in the near future.


COML Unit Leader Type III Training (COML) - Through the Office of Emergency Communications Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (OEC/ICTAP), the All-Hazards Type III Communications Unit Leader (COML) Class is available to provide DHS approved National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant Communications Unit Leader (COML) instruction to ensure that every state/territory has trained personnel capable of coordinating on-scene emergency communications during a multi-jurisdictional response. This class is scheduled for November 17/18/19, 2009, at the Holiday Inn Express and Conference Center, Saco.

Please contact the MEMA Interoperable Communication Division (624-4476) for questions or further information, or go to our communication website to see the full descriptive and details.

We will accept students from towns of less than 4000 but only pay backfill/overtime for 4000 plus. Please contact Mike Grant at 207 624-4460.

Description of the MSCommNet System:

The hybrid system will provide P25 trunking technology with advanced feature sets and capacity efficiencies, while the P25 conventional component of the system will reduce the power requirements at remote sites that will utilize solar energy systems. Additionally the hybrid trunked/conventional P25 system will provide critical features including group, individual and emergency call functionality. The upgrade to the system will insure that the State of Maine is compliant with the Federal Communications Commission requirements for non-Federal public safety agencies to be narrowband compliant prior to January 1, 2013. The VIDA Network will enable Maine to select the most efficient and cost-effective radio equipment to connect analog and digital systems throughout Maine through the Harris NetworkFirst(R), an innovative IP network switching architecture. NetworkFirst has been designated as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology under the Department of Homeland Security's SAFETY Act. The MSCommNet system will provide the State of Maine with an advanced set of features including:

  • Interoperability: The VIDA-based system allows interoperability at three levels:

    • Standards: The radios will operate on VHF, P25 and legacy analog networks

    • Radio: Any vendor's P25-compliant radio will operate on the system

    • Network: VIDA will interoperate with any system regardless of brand or frequency band

  • Statewide Agency Communication: Designated users will have the ability to communicate to any other user no matter the site, region or agency - with no dispatcher intervention.

  • Agency Autonomy: All of the State's public safety agencies will realize the advantages of a shared network but can remain autonomous within the system. Each agency will have independent secure partitioning, secure assigned talk groups and configuration clients allowing local control.


State of Maine Selects Harris Corporation to Deploy Statewide Radio Communications System

Maine's Office of Information Technology (OIT) Selects Harris' Hybrid P25 System to Extend and Unite the State's Public Safety Communications

LAS VEGAS and BOSTON, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Harris Corporation (NYSE: HRS), an international communications and information technology company, announced that the State of Maine Office of Information Technology (OIT) has selected the company's Public Safety and Professional Communications business to deploy MSCommNet, a hybrid Project 25 (P25) VHF statewide digital radio system, based on the company's VIDA(R) (Voice, Interoperability, Data, Access) Network technology. Designed to meet the unique needs of Maine's law enforcement, public safety, and public service first responders, the P25 VHF system is fully compliant with Phase 1 of the federal P25 standard and will include 40 sites throughout Maine, providing mobile coverage across 95 percent of the state. Supporting suppliers on the Harris winning bid include Jacobs Telecommunications, Radio Communications Management and Alcatel-Lucent.

Where can I learn more about Interoperability? Go to:

How Aroostook County will move towards Narrowbanding

By (Aroostook County EMA Director Vern Ouellette)

2013 is the deadline for converting current radio communication frequencies to NARROWBAND. Having attended the recent APCO conference it has become apparent our County as well as most other first response agencies in the Nation are not pressing forward on the upcoming required license modifications. The Aroostook County Emergency Management Agency we will attempt to educate all our first response agencies stressing the fact that work on license modifications must begin as soon as possible.

We will accomplish this via a newsletter that will include the information presented below. With research conducted by Joshua Daigle an intern for our agency we have compiled the information presented below; Most current radio systems used by public safety personnel use a 25 KHz bandwidth for their radio channels.

Phase 1 Narrowbanding lowers the KHz to 12.5 KHz, which allows additional channels to exist in the same spectrum.

Phase 2 Narrowbanding lowers the KHz to 6.25 KHz, but there is currently no deadline for this transition.

As of December 2004, the FCC mandated that all public safety radio systems move from 25 KHz to 12.5 KHz by January 1, 2013. Several things need to be done before this transition can take place in you department:

  • Assess/inventory current equipment and
    radio systems
  • Plan/budget for new equipment
  • Apply for new/modified license
  • File paper work
  • Establish timetable for new equipment implementation/transition
  • Implement new equipment/systems

It is important that when you are looking into new equipment you do not buy equipment that runs on 25 KHz. This equipment will no longer be accepted for use and will be illegal to use. Be careful of vendors who may try to “unload” this type of equipment by providing “great deals” or “special offers”. Some vendors may go as far as to falsely say the equipment works on narrowband.

Starting work now on the transition to the new Narrowbanding guidelines is very important. The FCC has set the overall transition deadline for January 1, 2013. The deadline of January 1, 2013 may seem like a long time off but it will come quickly and there are severe consequences for not complying with the new mandate. One consequence of waiting will be increasing communication interference when new systems begin going online. This will be due to narrowband channels overlapping wideband channels. The more severe consequence will be the cancellation of you license’(s) by the FCC. As of the January 1, 2013 deadline, any departments that have not gotten new or modified licenses will have their licenses cancelled immediately. Another severe consequence is substantial fines for non-compliance. These fines can be between $8,000 to $10,000 per day. By waiting, you are risking having to spend a lot more money and time later on. The following article is a checklist of necessary steps in the narrowbanding transition process. It details what you have to do and in what order to do it. I hope that it will help make your transition in to narrowbanding more efficient and easy...


  • One plan for compliance*:

  • Verify that your company or organization has a current and valid FCC Part 90 radio station license (add NB emission designator)

  • Conduct a full inventory of all radios in your system including all portable, mobile, dispatcher-used, wireless data or SCADA (public works telemetry), and on or off-site base or repeater radios (include makes and models and, if possible, serial numbers)

  • Determine which equipment can be re-programmed and which must be replaced

  • Secure your budget for services and equipment
  • Develop a "wideband"-to-"narrowband" system conversion plan that addresses:

a. The replacement and installation of any narrowband-capable off-site base or repeater stations b. The actual reprogramming of all radios in a system as close to simultaneously as possible

  • Work closely with a professional two way radio service vendor

  • Schedule and coordinate the actual system conversion (or cutover)

  • Make certain that all radio users have been advised in advance and are aware of the process.

  • Modify your FCC radio station license to remove any "wideband" emission

  • designators, replacing them with the correct "narrowband" ED’s

  • Make any other changes or updates to a license that may be required

  • Note that the conversion plan must be tailored for each agency

  • Source: (Author: Nick Ruark)


If you need further information please go to the MEMA website at: or contact Steven Mallory at 207 624 4476 or by email at**

Lessons learned from the APCO Conference:

A System of Systems and Standards

Communication improves as agencies, large and small, join together to interoperate. No single solution exists to connect independent systems but standard interfaces can aid in integrating previously incompatible equipment. Connecting systems with standard interfaces has the following operational, technological, and economic advantages over connecting systems using proprietary interfaces:

  • Increased Operational Benefits – As standard systems and subscriber devices proliferate, emergency responders can respond anywhere, bring their own equipment, and operate ion any network immediately, when authorized.
  • Increased Capability – Systems based on standards can connect to other systems without compromising functionality.
  • Increased Efficiency – The need for additional equipment and technical resources to improve interoperability decreases
  • Increased Flexibility to Upgrade – Each system can make changes or adopt new technology without affecting other connected, standards-based systems.
  • Decreased Reliance on Proprietary Technology – Jurisdictions can choose from multiple vendors.
  • Decreased Cost – Price competition increases and the need for expensive customized interoperability solutions is reduced. Training can be standardized across jurisdictions, thus reducing training costs.
  • Increased Capacity to Expand – Standards-based solutions are more likely than proprietary solutions to be able to integrate the next system into the larger system of systems.

Whether or not standards exist or are available; a system of systems approach supports each agency’s ability to think outside its jurisdictional boundaries. Each agency can see itself as a component in a regional and nationwide system of systems connected through compatible equipment as well as collaborative approaches toward a common goal.

P25 Compliance Assessment Program

Issue background

Emergency responders – police Officers, fire personnel. Emergency medical services – need to seamlessly exchange communications across disciplines and jurisdictions to successfully respond to day – to – day incidents and large – scale emergencies. Today, multiple products and applications support radio communications and its associated infrastructure. Unfortunately, because manufacturers use different technical approaches, these products are often incompatible – potentially compromising the success of emergency response operations.


Project 25 (P25) is focused on developing standards that allow radios and other components to interoperate regardless of manufacturer – enabling emergency responders to exchange critical communications. The goal of P25 is to specify formal standards for interfaces between the various components of a land mobile radio (LMR) system – commonly used by emergency responders in portable handheld and mobile – vehicle mounted devices.

P25 Long – Term Goals

  • Ensure that emergency response technologies effectively meet the needs of practitioners in the field.
  • Assist emergency response officials in making informed purchasing decisions
  • Provide vendors with a method of testing their equipment for P25 compliance
  • Support the migration of communications systems to standards-based infrastructure.



Steven Mallory
(207) 624-4476


Last update: 07/20/10