Monday, March 16, 2009

Federal Use of MotoTRBO?!?

Those who read the posts in the Radio Reference web site forums have no doubt noticed an increase in the number of posters asking about something called MotoTRBO. This is a new product line of XPR radios from Motorola that offers a proprietary digital format. An interesting description of the MotoTRBO system is available here:

The new product line seems to have gotten popular with businesses, casinos, colleges and university security departments. Public safety agencies have started to utilize MotoTRBO equipment in some areas, which is a concern to scanner listeners as this digital format is not compatible with any scanners.

Now, I can report that it appears the MotoTRBO line of radios may be in use by a federal agency. The Portland VA Medical Center campus in Vancouver, Washington has been transmitting something on 409.4375 MHz that certainly sounds like the MotoTRBO sound samples available on the Internet. I have been hearing the signal for a couple of weeks now, but was finally able to confirm where it was coming from today. Here is a sample of what the MotoTRBO format sounds like on an analog scanner:

This is interesting in that I was under the impression that federal agencies were strongly urged (if not required) to make all new radio purchases with APCO P-25 compatibility in mind. In fact any public safety agency that was hoping for federal grants to help with communications purchases was also urged to go with something that was P-25 compatible. So why the move towards the MotoTRBO radios? Price? Features? The fact that they can't be monitored?