Tuesday, June 22, 2010

USFS Columbia Dispatch Using P-25 Digital

Over the last year or so there have been rumors of upgrades to the radio systems used by Mt. Hood National Forest and Gifford-Pinchot National Forest in northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington. They have apparently combined some of the radio dispatching and are now identifying as "Columbia Dispatch" in the two National Forests, but so far no new frequencies have been discovered - until a couple of weeks ago.

The two national forest areas utilize VHF repeaters and UHF point-to-point links for radio communications. Recently the frequency of 417.9875 MHz, N68F has sometimes been heard carrying the dispatcher in P-25 digital. The frequency should be paired with 408.9875 MHz, but we haven't heard anything on that link yet. The P-25 NAC of N68F is interesting, as this NAC has previously been identified as being used on the federal interoperability systems.

Despite being a digital link, the VHF frequencies are all still analog. However, this may indicate that they have upgraded the core of the system to digital and can flip the switch at any time!

A while back I found this document on line that lists the frequencies for some of these UHF links:

According to the frequencies listed on this document, the 417.9875 MHz link is to Mt Mitchell in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.


Found this document on the web with some updated information on the Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) and what might be next:


It is not noted when this document was released, but a couple of interesting items are listed;

* The Southern California Border Patrol system, formerly referred to as the EVRP (Encrypted Vice Radio Project) when it began, is apparently now apparently considered part of the total IWN project. This document refers to the San Diego IWN, but I have not seen or heard any evidence that this conventional P-25 system of repeaters throughout the southern California border area is using trunking technology yet. But several times the IWN has been described as a combination of trunked and conventional technology.

* Planned expansion of the NCR (National Capitol Region) section of the IWN. Deployment of the IWN in the Baltimore area is scheduled for late 2011.

* System planning and design for the Western Great Lakes and Chicago areas is in the 2011 budget.

* Continued implementation of the IWN Systems Operations Center and Region 1 Regional Management Center for interconnection between the IWN and other networks.

Despite not seeing or hearing much new in the IWN project, there are definitely advances being made.