Va. City Hooks into Federal Network

The digital communications system that serves the Defense Supply Center in Richmond, and the U.S. Army's Fort Lee and Tidewater area Naval facilities, will soon begin serving the city of Hopewell, Va., the first local jurisdiction to join the federal network.

Installation of the Motorola Inc. system should be complete early next year. When finished, it will mark a milestone in cooperation among federal facilities and the communities that surround them.

Motorola's SmartZone switch serves as the nucleus of the system and accommodates multi-user agencies and a frequency band, which is critical because the federal agencies operate at 450 MHz, while the Hopewell system will use 800 MHz. The SmartZone technology also enables agencies to create talk groups for those who routinely communicate with one another. Encryption tools protect users from eavesdropping.

"The new system is a real benefit to Hopewell since some of our previous communications systems were as much as 35-years-old and talking across jurisdictions was difficult at best," said Tim Webb ,the city's project director and fire department battalion chief. "This shared system provides us the opportunity to move to new, sophisticated communications technology without having to shoulder the entire expense ourselves."

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