New radio system in works for Kentucky

The Kentucky State Police last week awarded a $22.8 million contract to

Motorola Inc. for a statewide digital two-way radio system. The new Astro

25 system will replace the agency's analog model, which is more than 20

years old and in constant need of repair.

The Astro 25 system platform will operate on "narrowband" radio channels

to comply with the Federal Communications Commission's mandate that public

safety two-way radio systems be able to operate on 12.5 KHz channels rather

than the 25 KHz channels that are commonly used today.

The Astro 25 system will be installed at 97 sites throughout the state

and will include more than 200 base stations and 1,250 mobile radios. It

will use multicast technology, which transmits a communication from a number

of different transmitters on different frequencies and then automatically

selects the one with the strongest signal to receive the communication,

which better serves officers in the field, especially those in remote locations.

"The clarity of this new system will be a dramatic improvement over

what we have now," said Capt. Kenneth Hardin, communications commander for

the Kentucky State Police. "It will also improve our coverage, especially

in "dead spots,' and there's an officer emergency button that notifies the

nearest post electronically immediately if pushed. The narrowband makes

it more difficult to scan [our frequencies] with a regular scanner."

System installation is set to begin in the second quarter of 2000 for

the 18-month contract, and the entire system should be complete by the third

quarter of 2001, Hardin said.

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