MCP helps Massachusetts State Police upgrade radio system

Mission Critical Partners (MCP) announced today that the project to implement a new statewide Land Mobile Radio (LMR) trunked radio system for the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) has moved into the design, deployment and preliminary testing of the core infrastructure. The project, which started in 2019, is scheduled to be completed in 2026. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS) is leading the project.

The new system conforms to the Project 25 (P25), Phase 2 standard for digital radio systems. It replaces an analog trunked radio system implemented in the mid-1990s that served the eastern two-thirds of the state. It also replaces a P25, Phase 1 bundle system that served the western third and was implemented in 2011.

The legacy systems had reached the end of their useful life, meaning they were no longer supported by vendors and replacement parts were difficult if not impossible to obtain, making operation and maintenance exceedingly difficult. Another challenge concerned the interoperability between the two systems, achieved via gateway patches, which is less efficient than the native interoperability provided by the new nationwide system.

Another advantage of the new system is that it offers improved coverage, capacity and reliability, especially when compared to the old analog trunked radio system. Regional and local public safety agencies — as well as the Massachusetts Department of Correction — may be able to join the system, improving not only their radio communications but also interoperability between them and MSPs.

“A P25, Phase 2 system offers two talk paths, while analog and P25, Phase 1 systems only offer one. So the new system will double capacity across Massachusetts without having to add more frequencies,” said Scott Neal, MCP director of wireless services, who was previously a major with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) with responsibility for PA-STARNet PSP’s nationwide LMR system.

In addition, a P25 phase 2 system offers enhanced capabilities that P25 phase 1 systems, and analog systems in particular, lack. The new system also supports paging, which is important to the country’s fire departments, especially volunteer departments. This is intended to allow fire departments joining the new system to retire their legacy paging systems, many of which have also reached end of life.

“This is a huge plus for agencies that can transition to the new paging system,” said Neal. “First, they don’t have to maintain a separate paging system, which can be costly and problematic, especially for legacy systems. Second, the coverage area of ​​a P25 radio system is typically larger than the area of ​​a paging system. It is noteworthy that MSP has ensured that its new system supports paging.”

Finally, the project will replace obsolete portable radios currently deployed on the system.

Specific support from MCP includes the following:

· A comprehensive assessment of legacy systems

· Recommendations on the new radio system and the backhaul system, particularly on the system design

· Development of technical specifications and Call for Proposals (RFP) document.

· Vendor-neutral insight into the evaluation of each proposed system

· Development of service level agreements with the selected provider

· System enactment, testing and implementation

“Equipping public safety and first responders with the necessary gear to enable reliable communications is critical to their ability to safely respond to an emergency situation,” said Secretary of Technology Services and Safety Curt Wood. “I am grateful for this partnership between the Commonwealth and Mission Critical Partners to deliver this important public safety project.”

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