Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the Fed Files and Monitoring Times readers out there!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another New DEA P-25 Frequency Found

Listeners in the Houston, Texas region have reported finding another active P-25 frequency that is most likely a new DEA channel.

410.4125 MHz, N156 has been heard active and at this time is presumed to be a repeater in the downtown Houston area. All comms so far on this channel have been reported as being encrypted.

This appears to be part of the move by the DEA to follow the new 9 MHz repeater offset in the federal UHF band. In theory, the input frequency to this repeater should be 419.4125 MHz, but that has not been confirmed yet.

I also forgot to post a previously heard simplex channel, 414.4500 MHz, N156. Also being reported in the Houston area.

Not sure why Houston seems to be the area chosen for the rollout of the new P-25 frequencies, while most of the rest of the country appears to still using the standard UHF channels.

Friday, December 03, 2010

DC Area IWN Rollout Without DHS

An interesting article has appeared on line talking about the roll out of the new IWN DC area overlay trunked system:

As I posted back in September, the new VHF IWN trunked sites started to appear recently in the Washington DC area, and will serve various subscriber agencies, primarily the Department of Justice. However, the article linked above indicates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not be participating in the DC area system.

Some DHS agencies are participating in the original IWN sites in the Pacific Northwest, with CBP Customs and Border Patrol being heavy IWN users along the US-Canada border areas.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

LA USSS Back On The Air

On Monday, November 30th, while waiting for a flight at LAX airport, I had time for some scanning. While searching the federal bands I happened to catch some radio techs doing checks on the Los Angeles area US Secret Service radio sites. This comes after one of the sites serving the LA Metro area was destroyed by wildfires in August, 2009.

I caught some clear radio checks on:

165.2125 MHz, N001 - MIKE
165.3750 MHz, N001 - CHARLIE
165.7875 MHz, N001 - BAKER
171,7625 MHz, N001 - Input to BAKER repeater on Mt. Disappointment

I missed the radio checks, but other listeners reported:
164.4000 MHz, N001 - PAPA
164.6500 MHz, N001 - TANGO
164.8875 MHz, N001 - OSCAR

When they were finished, one technician proclaimed that they were "finally back on the air after a year and a half!"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Border Patrol in Arizona

In the November issue of Monitoring Times, I mentioned a number of VHF P-25 repeaters that had been heard on the air in Southern Arizona over the past summer. It now appears that even more new frequencies are on the air and are being used extensively by CBP Border Patrol.

Since my last visit to the Tucson area last spring, there has definitely been an increase in activity on these new frequencies, but the traditional Border Patrol channels in the 163 and 168 Mhz range have become used less and less. If you live in the Southern Arizona area, start searching for new frequencies. Here is a list of what is being heard now:

163.6250 MHz, N206
163.7000 MHz, N201
166.7375 MHz, N30E
168.8250 MHz, N302 - RED MOUNTAIN

168.8250 MHz, N330 - WIDE AREA
168.8250 MHz, N710 - WIDE AREA
169.1625 MHz, N293 - CBP AIR 4 (More on this frequency in the January Fed Files!)
169.5500 MHz, N203 - TUBAC AREA BORDER PATROL ON 1-19
169.9375 MHz, N330

169.9375 MHz, N653 - GILIO 1
170.3500 MHz, N130 - WIDE AREA INTEROP
170.3500 MHz, N20C - WIDE AREA INTEROP

170.3500 MHz, N230 - WIDE AREA INTEROP (Nogalas, AZ)
170.3500 MHz, N340 - WIDE AREA INTEROP
170.4375 MHz, N301 - AJO
170.4375 MHz, N130 - AJO
170.4375 MHz, N230 - Far East Arizona
171.0375 MHz, N201
171.1875 MHz, N110
171.3250 MHz, N20C
171.6625 MHz, N210
172.0625 MHz, N20A
172.7625 MHz, N210
173.1750 MHz, N209
173.1875 MHz, N110
173.1875 MHz, N230 - INTEROP MT. LEMMON
173.5000 MHz, N20B
173.6125 MHz, N210 - May be input or simplex, called "SCAN 3"
173.6500 MHz, N206
173.7375 MHz, N130
173.9375 MHz, N304

This appears to be a major move towards a new network of Border Patrol and CBP operational repeaters that may continue across the southern United States, and along the lines of what has been in use along the Southern California region for quite some time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

FPS Chnges & Updates Continue

UPDATE - Reports from the Northeast US are that many cites in FPS Region 1 (New England) have switched over to 408.2000 MHz repeaters from 417.2000 MHz. It also appears the region is now using a P-25 NAC of N201. Some stragglers may still be using 417.2000 MHz, but should change soon. These moves are to update the repeater frequencies to a new standard 9 MHz offset, meaning the repeater inputs should now be 9 MHz from the repeater output.

Besides the primary region-wide repeaters, be on the lookout for simplex or stand-alone repeaters that might be in use in some specialized federal properties.

Despite some areas of the country already using new frequencies and P-25 digital radio, some areas of the Federal Protective Service are still awaiting updates to the communications systems. Here is a recent request for bids on replacing and upgrading radio gear for FPS Region 7, which includes sites in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Quick Scan at IAD-Update

Had some time between slights at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday and did a little searching while there. I managed to pick up several sites from the new IWN overlay system for the DC area, shows as System 010. The System 715 is part of the original IWN trunked system.

168.7625, N011 - SYS010, SITE 1001 (DC Mall Site)
170.6250, N010 - SYS010, SITE 0301 (Bull Run VA Site)
170.9250, N719 - SYS715, SITE 0124 (Fairfax VA Site)
171.2750, N010 - SYS010, SITE 0201 (Independence Hill VA Site)
171.6250, N011 - SYS010, SITE 0701 (Fairfax VA Site)
173.9000, N011 - SYS010 (Gaithersburg MD Site)

Monday, November 08, 2010

414.5625 MHz

Over a year ago, while in the Houston, Texas area, I stumbled across some encrypted P-25 traffic on 414.5625 MHz, NAC 168. The traffic was simplex and have found no confirmed data on what agency might be using that frequency.

Recently another listener in the Houston area has reported hearing activity on that same frequency, also encrypted, so whoever it is, they are still in business.

However, now I have received a report from the Charlotte, North Carolina area of the same frequency and and NAC being used there. Again, always encrypted, so no agency identification has been determined yet.

Keep this one in your scan list and see if it is active near you!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

World Series Game 2

Things settled down a bit in our part of the broadcasting compound for the second game of the 2010 World Series. so I had some time to listen to the scanner more. Here is what was busy during the game:

157.1750 MHz - Marine channel 83A with Coast Guard units patrolling the waters outside the ball park. Call signs heard were MARINE 1, MARINE 2, PIKE and PIKE 2
162.3500 MHz - Weak P-25 or analog with DES. No confirmation of what it was.
163.6125 MHz, 127.3 pl - Speaker Palosi Capitol Police security detail at the game again.
166.4625 MHz, 100.0 pl - Unknown agency operating outside the ballpark. Somewhat informal conversations. Frequency is known as DHS Common or Treasury Common, but is found in most federal law enforcement channel plans.
170.7500 MHz, N293 - Unknown agency, encrypted full time
170.9250 MHz, N167 - FBI units, probably on location at the game. During game 1, heard some units in the clear and confirmed they were in the stadium. Game 2 and everyone was secure, but signal strength seemed to indicate they were still on location and simplex.

Other frequencies were heard as well, but probably did not have anything to do with the World Series:
163.1375 MHz, N293
163.3750 MHz, 192.8 pl
163.4125 MHz, 131.8 pl
165.2375 MHz, 100.0 pl - DHS Customs Net 1
165.2875 MHz, N650 - BATFE Net 1
165.4375 MHz, N302 - Unknown security operations
166.0500 MHz
166.3000 MHz, N325
166.7375 MHz, N293 - US Mint security
167.2125 MHz, 167.9 pl
167.7875 MHz
168.4875 MHz, N293
168.9125 MHz, N510
169.2000 MHz, 114.8 pl
169.5500 MHz, 100.0 pl - DHS Customs with OTAR
172.7000 MHz, N293

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SF World Series Game One

I'm in San Francisco for the 2010 World Series. We did game 1 on Wednesday night and only had a short time to listen to the scanner, but did find some federal activity in SF, some related to the events at the ball park...

162.6125, 127.3pl - US Capitol Police security detail for Speaker Palosi at the game.
164.4000, N001 - USSS PAPA-Active for FLOTUS visit to SF on Monday.
165.2125, N001 - USSS MIKE-Active for FLOTUS visit to SF on Monday.
165.3750, N001 - USSS CHARLIE-Active for FLOTUS visit to SF on Monday.
166.4625, 100.0 pl - Units outside stadium, not sure which agency.
167.0500, ?pl - What should be the FCC, simplex use around the stadium.

170.9250, N167 - FBI special event units on location in stadium.

Thats all so far, but will update with anything new from Game 2...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New TSA P-25 Frequency at BOS

I know the blog postings seem to be stuck in TSA mode these days, but I post 'em as they come in to me...

I've received confirmation of a new TSA P-25 digital channel in use at Boston Logan Airport, BOS. The frequency is 166.2875 MHz, N001, simplex. They seem to be using this frequency to coordinate passengers going throught the millimeter-wave X-ray machine, also known as the full-body scanner.

This is a new frequency for the TSA channel line up, joining a whole bunch of new frequencies that have turned up with the new Icom radios.

Friday, October 22, 2010

More TSA Radio News

Here are a couple of news items regarding TSA and their radio communications.

This item has some details about the purchase of the Icom F-50V radios as part of the efforts to equip everyone at the airport security checkpoints with radios. The article indicates that the original purchase was for 10,000 radios:

Secondly, this item describes how the TSA is interested in adding OTAR (Over-The-Air Re-keying) of their existing radios:

If you download some of the linked documents in this page, it describes the test procedures that indicate the OTAR encryption keys will be provided by the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Key Management Facility.

One could speculate on why the TSA needs to have OTAR. Almost none of the P-25 radios used by the TSA are using encryption, although they are all capable. Some airport locations are using encrypted communications full-time, but many are not. This request, along with a request from TSA for RF tracking devices, seem to indicate a more aggressive technical requirement that just airport security checkpoints.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

More "New" TSA Analog Frequencies

Since the addition of the Icom F-50V radios to the TSA security checkpoints at US airports, some new frequencies have started showing up. These new frequencies are not part of the original TSA channel plan that is in all of the P-25 radios the TSA is using.

Recently I found two additional frequencies in use. First, at San Francisco International airport (SFO), I found the contract TSA look-alikes there using the FT-50V radios on 162.2750 MHz, 131.8pl with voice inversion. On another recent trip I found the TSA at Los Angeles International airport (LAX) in Terminal 3 using 166.7875 MHz, 123.0 pl, also with voice inversion.

Anyone got any additional TSA channels we haven't posted yet? Pass them along to us at Monitoring Times!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

170.3375 MHz in Dallas - TSA?

I have received some reports of a new P-25 digital channel being heard in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.

Reports are that 170.3375 MHz, NAC001 has been heard with clear traffic that seems to make references to possible TSA operations at DFW Airport in Grapevine.

This frequency does not appear in the previously known TSA frequency assignments, however, DFW Airport had always had some non-standard TSA radio operations. 169.1625 MHz and 169.1875 MHz have previously reported as being used but the TSA at DFW. Apparently they were concerned about TSA frequencies used at Dallas Love Field would interfere with operations at DFW.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Federal VHF Trunking - Update

I recently posted that listeners were reporting many new VHF P-25 trunking sites starting to go live in the northern Virginia and Washington DC areas. Some additional information has been posted.

Here is what we know so far - The trunked system is showing a System ID of 010, WACN of BF58A, and at least 7 sites found so far. Only one talk group has been reported so far, TG 9301 doing radio checks.

168.2625 - Site 6-001
168.4875 - Site 8-001
168.6250 - Site 6-001
168.8250 - Site 6-001
168.8875 - Site 10-001
169.6000 - Site 2-001
170.6250 - Site 3-001
170.6625 - Site 1-001

170.8625 - Site 14-001
170.8750 - Site 2-001

170.9125 - Site 3-001
171.2750 - Site 2-001
171.6250 - Site 7-001
171.7750 - Site 4-001
171.9875 - Site 11-001
172.0125 - Site 12-001
172.6250 - Site 5-001
172.6375 - Site 12-001
173.9000 - Site 14-001

So who does this system belong to? There is some evidence that this is the new National Capitol Region overlay of the Justice Department's Integrated Wireless Network (IWN). Although this system is utilizing a different System ID and WACN than the original IWN sites, this may be the next step to expanding the system to different regions of the country. Most of these frequencies are from the same new allocations and Justice Department allocations pool that the legacy IWN sites are using.

In the Justice Department budget requests for 2011, one of the major goals of the IWN is listed as,
"... the first Region 1 IWN implementation is scheduled to go live (e.g., receive authority to operate and begin transition of users to the new system) in the National Capital Region (Washington, D.C. and proximate areas), in late 2010."

The document this quote came from is available here:

More information as it becomes available.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

VHF Trunking in Northern Virginia?

I just spotted a post over on Radio Reference that someone is hearing "P25 control channels" on multiple VHF federal frequencies. No system ID, site ID, WACN or NAC information accompanied the frequencies that were posted.

Here are the frequencies that were posted:

I'd love to get some additional information from someone else that hears these so we can try to determine what they are. Many of these frequencies are being used in the federal Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) VHF trunked system in operation in Oregon and Washington. This possibly could be an expansion of the IWN sites in the DC area, but more information is needed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gifford-Pinchot National Forest

I recently spent some time near the Gifford-Pinchot NF Headquarters in Vancouver, WA. Us locals have been trying to piece together some of the new P-25 frequencies that have been heard recently. While I was there I searched for VHF or UHF frequencies coming from the tower there. Here is what I found active during my time near the tower:

406.3875 MHz, 136.5 PL
406.5750 MHz
408.5750 MHz
408.9875 MHz, N788
415.3875 MHz, 114.8 PL
415.4250 MHz, 162.2 PL
415.5250 MHz, N4F9
415.5750 MHz, N4CE
415.5750 MHz, N459
417.9875 MHz, N68F
418.1875 MHz, N47C
419.7875 MHz, N4F9

During the afternoon weather forecast broadcast, multiple channels were all transmitting at the same time. I did not find any active VHF transmissions from the tower while I was there. The frequency 415.5750 MHz showed two different NAC's, probably depending on something like what site they were controlling. Others have noted that the analog link frequencies sometimes have different CTCSS tones also.

We are still trying to figure out what VHF repeaters are associated with what UHF links. The work continues...

Monday, September 13, 2010

408.1875 MHz in Las Vegas?

On my last couple of trips to the Las Vegas area have found 408.1875 MHz keyed up continuously with no voice. The P-25 channel is showing a NAC of N001.

The frequency is listed as part of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) UHF trunked system used through out southern Nevada by multiple agencies, including Nellis AFB.

Anyone know why this is keyed up all the time?

NGC 'Border Wars'

For those who have not seen it yet, I can highly recommend the National Geographic Channel's "Border Wars", airing on Wednesday nights.

This is the second season of the program, which follows the front line activities of the Customs & Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security. Last season focused on CBP activity along the Arizona-Mexico border. This season has been located along the southern Texas - Mexico border along the Rio Grande.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

DHS CBP Officers to Operate in France

I have previously asked about US CBP officers operating in Canadian pre-clearance areas, but now it appears they are being sent to France to help advise on potential high-risk passengers:

NASA GRIP Experiment

The Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment is being conducted by NASA using various aircraft and flying missions surrounding Hurricane Alex:

South Florida monitors report that a NASA DC-8 is staging out of Ft. Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) for these missions.

In additon to the DC-8 aircraft, the NASA operated Global Hawk departed Edwards AFB to rendezvous with Hurricane Earl in the Atlantic Ocean.

Still awaiting any reports from listeners of NASA GRIP related communications.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the flight track of the NASA Global Hawk aircraft:

Monday, August 23, 2010

ARINC delivers new Huey II helicopters for CBP

According to this article, DHS CBP has taken delivery of 3 new helicopters for its Office of Air & Marine:

At one time the CBP air force was operated under the name Air & Marine Division. Then it appered to be reduced to simply CBP Air and Marine, but is being referred to as the CBP Office of Air & Marine (OAM). According to the writers of this article, the CBP Office of Air and Marine operates more than 260 aircraft of various types and nearly 200 maritime vessels from 80 sites around the country

The helicopters were upgraded and delivered by ARINC. ARINC Inc.provides communications, engineering and integration solutions for commercial, defense and government agenices. Many scanner listeners will recognize ARINC as a provider of voice and data communciaions systems for commercial airlines.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CBP Customs in Canada

I just returned from a quick trip to Montreal and passed through the US Customs Pre-Clearance at Toronto's Pearson Airport (YYZ). I spotted a CBP Customs officer at the end of the Pre-Clearance area with a VHF Astro Saber radio. While waiting for my departing flight to the US, I listened to see if I could fingure out what they might be using there, but had no success.

I have been told that CBP Customs officers at Vancouver (YVR) use the CBP Customs NET 1 frequency (165.2375 MHz), but I have never caught them while in Canada. Anyone confirmed any usage of VHF channels by CBP at YYZ?

POTUS Visit to Seattle

I was unable to make the trip up to Seattle to monitor the arrival of President Obama on Tuesday, but I did get some reports from folks on the ground there.

Here is what was reported active near Boeing Field, where Air Force 1 arrived;
164.8875 MHz, N001 - OSCAR
165.3750 MHz, N001 - CHARLIE
167.0125 MHz, N001
167.0375 MHz, N001
169.5125 MHz, N001 - WHCA SIERRA

I still have not come up with a standard "name" for the 167.0125 and 167.0375 channels that have been used by the Secret Service for a few years now. They are sometime referred to as POTUS protection detail channels, but they are often used where the POTUS or VPOTUS are not present.

Also, 165,7625 MHz, P25 with a NAC of N167 was reported active at Boeing Field. Unknown who exactly this might have been.

In addition to the conventional channels, there was some speculation as to who might be using the IWN, the federal VHF trunked radio system in the Seattle area. Locals set up to monitor the system activity reported nothing unusual on the trunking sites they were monitoring, but the IWN system very rarely seems to simulcast activity on sites other than the ones the users are affiliated with. Also, although the local Seattle field office of the Secret Service undoubtedly has IWN radios, it's doubtful the traveling POTUS protective detail has access to the IWN on these types of trips.

I did get to hear the departure of the Oregon Air Guard F-15's sent to intercept the incursion of the restricted airspace near Seattle. The alert flight (callsign ROCK) was launched from PDX airport and apparently went super-sonic to get up to there in a hurry, causing all kinds of phone calls about sonic booms and explosions!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

US Troops Deployed to Border

National Guard troops are beginning their deployment along the US-Mexico border. Troops will be deployed in Texas, New Mexico , Arizona and California to help support the Border Patrol with border security.

Monitors along the border areas can check for additional frequencies that might be in use by the National Guard troops. I have heard that some troops have received training in the use of the DHS CBP digital radios prior to being deployed.

Previous troop deployments to the border areas in Texas have included some additional antennas being installed at the Border Patrol checkpoints along major highways. The old checkpoint near Laredo, Texas had what appeared to be a military style VHF low-band antennas, most likely for the National Guard SINCGARS radios, operating from 30-88 MHz.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More From USFS Mt. Hood

In past blog posts I have mentioned some changes taking place in the Mt. Hood National Forest and Gifford-Pinchot National Forest areas of northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington state.

I have been searching through the UHF federal bands lately as new P-25 links keep showing up as the radio work continues. I just installed a new UHF Yagi antenna to try and help pull in some of these UHF frequencies. Here's what I found today:

406.3875 MHz, 136.5 pl - USFS Columbia Dispatch
407.1375 MHz, N482 - US Postal Inspectors, Portland
408.2000 MHz, N107 - Federal Protective Service, Portland
408.8125 MHz, analog carrier
408.9875 MHz, N788
409.1875 MHz, N555 - USFS Columbia Dispatch
410.7875 MHz, analog
412.8375 MHz, analog - May have been US Corps of Engineers
414.0375 MHz, analog, Should be one of the UHF federal interoperability naional calling channels. I heard someone heard finishing a test count, "3,2,1, test out...", but did not catch a PL tone.
416.1375 MHz, N482 - US Postal Inspectors, repeater input

More as the new antenna sucks it in!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Palm Springs Area Update

I spent a few days in the very warm Palm Springs area for work last week. I had only a few brief periods to scan the federal bands and came up with these. Some I have identified thanks to the work of the Southern California listeners who send me updates. A couple I haven't figured out for sure.


165.2875,N650 DOJ BATFE NET 1
166.9750,97.4 DOI BLM?
169.8750,123.0 USFS-SAN BERNARDINO NF?
169.8750,151.4 USFS-SAN BERNADRINO NF?
170.2250,103.5 ?
171.4750,103.5 USFS-SAN BERNARDINO NF?
171.6250,N153 DHS BORDER PATROL?
172.9000,N001 DHS TSA @ KPSP
415.0750,CSQ USFS LINK
419.5250,167.9 RELATED TO 172.7125?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

169.8250 P-25

While driving to the airport in Portland, OR today, I came across at least two mobile units talking on 169.8250 MHz, simplex, P-25 NAC293. From the conversations they were definitely not from the area and were looking at maps trying to figure out how to get through Portland on I-84 to I-5 northbound.

This caught my attention because this frequency is part of the assignments used by the US Geological Survey at Mt. St. Helens, ( A few times a year, listeners in the Portland area have reported weak P-25 traffic on the USGS channels, but we could never figure out where it was coming from.

No real idea who these guys are with, but one mentioned that one of the vehicles in their convoy was a "full sized truck". One unit also pointed out a "tower" and said that they had "worked on those lines before". Don't know if they meant power or RF type of tower.

The frequency could be any number of agencies, mostly Department of the Interior agencies, including USGS, BLM, Bureau of Mines, etc..

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More TRBO Digital on Federal Frequencies

I just received a report of confirmed use of the MOTOTRBO digital mode on 409.7375 MHz, somewhere in the Southern California (LA) area. MOTOTRBO is a propriatory digital radio product sold by Motorola, and appears to be gaining favor with hospitals, casinos and possibly some non-law enforcement federal opertions.

I have not copied any TRBO traffic on that frequency in my past SoCal visits, but have heard what I suspect to be TRBO digital on 407.3375 MHz and 413.5250 MHz, which I highly suspect to be coming from the VA Medical facility along I-5 north of San Diego.

Back in May, while in Las Vegas I heard many transmissions on 406.9375 MHz that sounded a lot like the known MOTOTRBO users in my home area. I've heard several other federal users, including 406.6625 MHz, the Federal Reserve Branch in Chicago, 407.9375 MHz coming from somewhere in the Seattle/Tacoma area, and 409.4375 MHz confirmed as coming from the VA Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.

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.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Federal Cell Phone Jamming

A recent mention in another radio forum lead me to this article from Toronto, Canada:

Although the article is specifically about the use of mobile cell phone jamming "bubbles" at the Canadian G20 events, the same technology surely has been in use at US based events.

There has been much discussion over the years about the WHCA mobile communications vans around the Presidential motorcades and how they have jamming capabilities. There has not been much said in the media about the use of cell phone jammers by the US Secret Service or WHCA and certainly no mention of getting exemptions from federal law forbidding such jamming.

I have not yet been able to confirm or deny the use of cell phone jamming at POTUS events and such. There were rumors of such jamming at the last set of political conventions in Denver and St. Paul, but I had no personal confirmation of any intentional interference of cell systems. There were areas inside the secured buildings that were considered "RF Sensitive" and cell phones were not allowed, however...

Denver Federal Scanning

Just had some short time with the radios during a recent trip to the Denver area. Here's some of what I was able to catch:

162.2250, CSQ - US Postal Service
165.2375, 100.0 - DHS CBP Customs with some OTAR
166.2750 - Mixed mode P-25 and analog, probably US Mint
166.4625, CSQ - Unknown agency doing aerial survellance
166.5875, 100.0 - DHS CBP Customs with more OTAR
167.4625, N167 - Denver FBI
168.5250 - Unknown agency, heard multiple DTMF tones
170.1000, N167 - More FBI?
170.6750, N875 - Unknown agency
170.7500 - US Marshals Federal Courthouse
413.9250 - Federal Reserve

In addition to these conventional channels, heard lots of traffic on the Federal Front Range Trunked system that serves Denver and Buckley ARB. Also caught the UHF system at the Federal Correctional Institution aat Englewood.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Border Patrol Birthday

Today, May 28th, marks the 86th anniversary of the United States Border Patrol. It was originally started in 1924 to combat the illegal entry of aliens, contraband, and the flow of illicit liquor from Mexico and Canada into the United States. The El Paso Border Patrol Sector began operations on July 1, 1924 as the first uniformed division of the Immigration Bureau.

For frequencies that the CBP Border Patrol are using these days, check out this previous Fed Files Blog post:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Arizona Border Activity

Down in Arizona on a short vacation and have been observing some new and previously unknown frequencies active. The usual CBP Border Patrol and Customs channels are busy as always. But the unknown ones, mostly encrypted, keeping the users unknown for now, but I've got some guesses:

163.6250 MHz, 151.4 pl - Still hearing an analog Border Patrol repeater somewhere.
167.8250 MHz, N293 - Western Area Power Administration (WAPA -
167.9250 MHz, N293 - WAPA
167.9750 MHz, N293 - WAPA
168.8250 MHz - Heard with multiple NAC's of N167, N340 & N710
169.9375 MHz, N330
170.3500 MHz, N340
170.4375 MHz, N230 - Reported as a repeater in Nogales, AZ
173.0500 MHz, N001
173.1875 MHz - Heard with both N001 and N230
409.4000 MHZ, N910
414.9750 MHZ, N115

I suspect the 169.9375, 170.3500, 170.4375 and 173.1875 might be DHS ICE repeaters.

US Fish & Wildlife Activity

Reports from the Georgia Coast are that US Fish & Wildlife Service is active with Loggerhead Turtle tracking and support activities. I have not had much luck catching FWS traffic on the radios, so this information interested me.

Here are some of the active frequencies:
169.8250 MHz

171.6500 MHz

172.4500 MHz - USFWS Skidaway repeater

172.6500 MHz

These repeaters are apparently linked and all activity was reported as P-25 digital (sorry, no NAC data).

Friday, May 21, 2010

USGS Mt. St. Helens Frequencies

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State, the US Geological Survey had an open house at their facility in Vancouver, WA;

Thanks to those who were able to attend the open house, here is a list of the US Geological Survey frequencies in use at the Cascades Volcano Observatory:

164.6750 MHz - Link to North repeater
167.0750 MHz, 110.9 - North repeater input
167.0750 MHz, 127.3 - South repeater input
168.4250 MHz - Mt. St. Helens North & South repeaters
169.8250 MHz - USGS simplex

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More Federal MOTOTRBO?

I recently came across what sure sounds like another federal frequency using the proprietary MOTOTRBO digital mode.

In Las Vegas I heard many transmissions on 406.9375 MHz that sounded a lot like the known MOTOTRBO users in my home area. I've heard several other federal users, including 406.625 MHz, the Federal Reserve Branch in Chicago, 407.9375 MHz coming from somewhere in the Seattle/Tacoma area, and 409.4375 MHz confirmed as coming from the VA Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

FPS in Phoenix

After searching through the UHF federal band many times during my past visits to Phoenix, I finally caught the Federal Protective Service. They are using 409.4000 MHz, NAC920. Seems like they are not as busy as some areas of the country, so they have eluded my searches in the past. But it just proves the point that you need to have patience when looking for those elusive federal frequencies!

Monday, April 26, 2010

So Cal I-10 Road Trip

I had a chance to drive across I-10 from Ontario, CA to Phoenix, AZ this weekend. I was trying to confirm more of the CBP Border Patrol P-25 system, which continues to be used ONLY in Southern California. As soon as I crossed into Arizona, all the regular Border Patrol frequencies came back in use.

I had the scanners running and logging during the trip, but was not able to positively ID everything. Here is a quick listing of what was heard;

163.5125 131.8
163.5250 114.8
164.7500 85.4 SKIP FROM MEXICO?
165.6000 110.9
166.0125 D114
166.3750 103.5 BLM - SO CAL
166.8500 N310 PHOENIX
167.2125 N167 ARIZONA
167.3375 N167 FBI PHOENIX
167.3625 N167 FBI PHOENIX
167.5125 N167 FBI PHOENIX
167.7625 N167 SO CAL
168.0875 N710 SO CAL
168.1750 103.5 USFS
168.4750 100.0 USFS
168.8250 N104 CBP - SO CAL
168.8250 N710 PHOENIX
169.3000 N710 SO CAL - ?
170.5875 D156 PHOENIX
171.3250 N410 PHOENIX AREA
171.4750 103.5 SAN BERNARDINO NF
171.6750 103.5 JOSHUA TREE NP?
171.9250 162.2 ARIZONA/PHOENIX
172.9000 N013 TSA PHOENIX
173.0500 N670 PHOENIX
173.1000 N330 ARIZONA
173.5000 N50B ? ARIZONA
173.5500 N167 PHOENIX
173.7125 N167 PHOENIX
173.7125 N730 PHOENIX
173.8375 N167 PHOENIX
173.8875 N508 SO CAL

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Coast Guard UHF?-Updated!

I have received information that 412.9750 MHz, NAC293 is being heard around the Boston, MA area. This frequency has been identified in the San Francisco area as being used by the Coast Guard as "NET 409".

Reports are that so far all traffic is encrypted P-25, and this frequency is new to the area.

These new UHF channels are part of a radio upgrade program for Coast Guard law enforcement and homeland security activity. But we still don't have a good handle on other frequencies that might be in use, so keep searching!

UPDATE - Bits and pieces of information continue to come in. First, the frequency of 413.0250 MHz, NAC293 has been heard active in the Southeast Florida area. It has been encrypted full time so positive ID has not been made. From a separate source, I have confirmed that Coast Guard assets in the Miami / Ft. Lauderdale area do indeed have UHF radios installed in them. They have been reported as using "NET 411", but no one has yet confirmed the frequency. Does NET 411 = 413.0250 MHz? We shall see if anyone can connect these pieces.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

TSA Analog Radios-Continued

Just spotted a report that the TSA screeners are using 173.0875 MHz in analog with voice inversion at the Bellingham, WA airport (KBLI). This is a new frequency for TSA operations since the addition of the analog "screener" radios started around the first of the year (2010).

The Bellingham airport is also home to Customs & Border Protection Air Marine assets.

I will be expanding on the TSA analog radios in a future Fed Files column.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New DEA Frequencies-Continued

As we recently reported, the DEA has been utilizing some new UHF frequencies in the Houston, TX area. Previously a new P-25 repeater was heard repeating traffic from 418.6750 MHz on 409.6750 MHz with a NAC of 156.

Now a new repeater has been heard on 409.9000 MHz, also with a P-25 NAC of 156. In keeping with the 9 MHz repeater offset, the input should be 418.9000 MHz, the old Channel 2 in the DEA nationwide channel plan.

Also heard in Houston as been simplex DEA traffic on 413.9750 MHz, NAC 156. These frequencies (409.6750, 409.9000 and 413,9750) are all new assignments to the DEA, so obviously some changes are in the works. I have not seen any reports of these new frequencies in any areas other than Houston yet.

The old DEA channel plan is still available here:

St. Paul MN Logs-Update

I have been fortunate enough to stay in touch with some folks in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area after the RNC Convention in St. Paul back in September of 2008. One listener was kind enough to send along a sample of what has been heard in the St. Paul area recently. Most entries were P-25 digital and I have added what these frequencies are most likely used for:

164,4000 MHz, N001 - US Secret Service PAPA
167.4375 MHz, N167 - FBI
167.5000 MHz, N293
167.6375 MHz, N167 - FBI
168.2375 MHz, N293 - FBI
170.6250 MHz, N653 - Federal Interoperability
170.7500 MHz, N293 - Most likely US Marshals
171.4375 MHz, N167 - FBI
171.6125 MHz, N653 - Federal Interoperability
171.6875 MHz, N167 - FBI
171.9250 MHz,
172.9000 MHz, N001 - TSA at MSP Airport
173.5000 MHz, N167 - FBI
173.8125 MHz, N167 - FBI

406.1125 MHz, N293
406.8625 MHz, N421
407.0000 MHz, N201
408.8125 MHz, N1e1 - Federal Correctional Institution Waseca TRS
409.2125 MHz, N1e1 - Federal Correctional Institution Waseca TRS
410.0125 MHz, N1e1 - Federal Correctional Institution Waseca TRS
410.4000 MHz, N1e1 - Federal Correctional Institution Waseca TRS
415.8625 MHz

VA Medical Center TRS

For some time there was some discussion on the Radio Reference site about the frequencies used by the VA Medical Center Mountain Home in Johnson City, TN. It apparently has been confirmed that the VAMC is using a UHF Passport LTR trunked system. Here are the frequencies in use:
407.8375, 408.0375, 409.7000, 410.9000

There are no Logical Channel Numbers (LCN's) listed, but since there are no Passport capable scanners out there, it might be a while before we see that information.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Providence, RI

Just a couple of quickies before I board my flight home.

While driving in to Providence this morning, I caught what sure sounded like MotoTRBO digital on 173.9875 MHz. The signal was moderate but not real strong as I entered the airport area (KPVD). The frequency has been associated with a number of agencies in the past, including FBI, DoD, FAA, USFS and the Department of the Interior.

Oh, and the TSA at PVD is using 172.9000 MHz, 162.2 pl in analog with voice inversion for the checkpoint screeners. Normal TSA ops continue on 172.9000 MHz, NAC 001.

I think the new TSA radio rollout is pretty much everywhere, so the only remaining mystery is a channel plan and PL tones for the different airports. And I have confirmed that the radios are using simple voice inversion, no rolling-code encryption.

Monday, February 22, 2010

OOPS! Typo in March Fed Files

Before I get a lot of emails, I wanted to correct a small typo in the March 2010 Fed Files column.

In the column, I referred to the new 9 MHz repeater offset in the federal 406-420 MHz band. I gave an example of the new offset, saying that a 408 MHz repeater would have an input of 418 MHz. Of course, I meant to say that the input would be 417 MHz, because as we all know, 408 + 9 = 417, not 418 as I wrote in the column!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Harris Wins Federal Contract for Multi-Band Radios

Radios Will Be Provided to Departments of Interior, Agriculture and FBI Training Academy through U.S. General Services Administration Blanket Purchase Agreement

ROCHESTER, NY, February 5, 2009 — Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS), an international communications and information technology company, has been awarded a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to provide land mobile radios to the U.S. Departments of Interior, Agriculture and FBI Training Academy. Harris is one of 13 companies receiving an award under a five-year delivery order with a ceiling of $500 million from the U.S. General Services Administration, Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM).

Under terms of the contract, Harris will compete to sell land mobile radios to the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, FBI Training Academy, U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies. Harris will provide multiband, multimission software-defined radios recently introduced by its newly formed Government and Public Safety business unit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Cities with New TSA Radios

Just passing through another set of airports this week and found the TSA at my home airport of Portland International (KPDX) is now starting to use the new Icom radios. I found them to be using 172.1500 MHz, 136.2 PL, but not always using the voice inversion option. They also continue to use 172.1500 MHz, P25 with various NACs depending on what checkpoint they are at.

However the personnel who were carrying the new radios also had the larger XTS digital radios as well. Not sure how they are using them as most TSA checkpoint staff have no radios at all.

TSA in Portland also continues to use the 172.9000 MHz, N001 repeater with encryption enabled. A few units are still in the clear, but I suspect the encrypted traffic are some specialized units, perhaps assigned to the ports.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

DoS UHF Changes As Well

Besides the changes going on with the DEA UHF channels, there seem to be some changes afoot with the Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, .

For many years the primary DoS Field Offices used 409.6250 MHz as their nationwide frequency. But recent installations of new P-25 gear has them using 409.5250 MHz, NAC 293. Dallas, Houston, Boston, San Francisco and Washington DC are currently using the new frequency. Originally when the DoS went to P-25 in New York City and Washington DC, they were using a P-25 NAC of N0f0, but sometimes N293 would show up.

Why the change? If you add 9 MHz to the old frequency of 409.6250 MHz, you end up on the DEA's primary repeater of 418.6250 MHz. Accident? Chance? Or will 409.6250 be the new DEA repeater frequency?

DEA Changes In The Works?

Recently there have been some possible changes to the DEA's UHF channel plan. It's been long expected as the DEA original frequencies were not going to be compliant with the NTIA's new UHF federal channel plan, including a 9 MHz repeater offset.

There had long been rumors and some confirmation that the DEA was headed towards VHF to be more interoperable with other Justice Department agencies. But after a recent Justice Department budget stated that the DEA was going to remain on UHF for "tactical" considerations, there has been some guessing as to what would happen with DEA frequency assignments. The original best guess at the DEA's assignements can be found here:

Recently in the Houston area, it has been reported that 418.6750 MHz, which has been a simplex DEA surveillance frequency, is now being repeated on 409.6750 MHz. Both signals were reported as using a NAC of 156. The 409.6750 frequency is a new assignment to the DEA, and seems to be based on being 9 MHz from the original simplex channel.

Also from the same area, probable DEA operations are being heard on 413.9750 MHz, also N156. This frequency has been used as a repeater input channel in some areas, but in the new NTIA channel plan this would be a simplex frequency.

So keep searching the 406-420 MHz band for more changes!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV

Well, it's Super Bowl time in Miami again. Operations have been underway for this National Security Special Event for some time, with all sorts of new federal frequencies popping up.

There is also the added bonus of having the Pro Bowl the weekend prior to the Super Bowl this year, so things will be busy in South Florida for the next couple of weeks!

A complete wrap-up of what was found at the Super Bowl will be featured in an upcoming Fed Files column in Monitoring Times magazine.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TSA Analog Radio Update

I have been through a few more airports recently and have not found the new Icom radios in use at very many yet. No analog activity at Houston Intercontinental (IAH) or Portland, Oregon (PDX). The only new confirmation is at Ft. Lauderdale International (FLL). I heard analog with voice inversion on 169.3 MHz, but was not able to confirm if this was simplex or actually repeated on 172.9 MHz. I believe the CTCSS tone was 123.0 Hz.

In addition to the airports I have been through, I have heard from others that Detroit (DTW), Las Vegas (LAS) and Nashville (BNA) are all using the new Icom radios. All were heard on 172.1500 MHz using voice inversion. No PL tones were noted in the reports. Also heard that Miami (MIA) and Atlanta (ATL) are using the new radios in analog.

More as it becomes available.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Coast Guard UHF Activity!

More reports have come in regarding the Coast Guard's Short Range Communications Upgrade System or SRCU.

P-25 digital communications have been heard in the San Diego area on 416.5500 MHz, N293. And just received word that 412.9750 MHz, N293 has been active in the San Francisco Bay area. The 416.5500 MHz frequency was not identifed by a NET number, but apparently the 412.9750 MHz frequency is known as NET 409. Reports are that NET 409 was patched to NET 113 (163.1375 MHz) and 164.9000 MHz was heard active with the same radio.

I have included a listing of previously known Coast Guard UHF allocations and identified the current P-25 channels that are known. Keep searching for new allocations to possibly pop up.

412.9750 - NET 409
413.0000 - NET-410
416.5500 - NET-4xx

Oh, and the photo is the USCG tower in Kelso, Washington, with two VHF and one UHF land mobile antenna on board.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

NOAA VHF Trunking

So far, P-25 trunking in the federal VHF band is pretty rare. But in 2008 I stumbled on this Request for Information from the NTIA and NOAA. It was regarding hardware for a VHF trunked radio system that was to be located in the Boulder, Colorado area:

Just recently I stumbled upon a thread on Radio Reference indicating that this P-25 VHF trunked system is on the air, probably undergoing testing.

The system information is sketchy, but here is what has been reported:
System ID = AD5
Control Channel = 172.0875 & 172.1000 MHz

More as it becomes available!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New TSA Radios Are Analog! UPDATED!

In late 2008 there were news reports of the Transportation Security Administration requesting funding for newer, smaller radios that were supposed to help keep the security checkpoints quieter.

Now I have seen a report that the TSA at Newark Liberty Airport is using new Icom F50 portable radios at the screening areas. Interestingly, the person reporting this says they were using them on 172. 1500 MHz in analog mode (136.5 pl), but with voice inversion scrambling!

The TSA is apparently still using the APCO P-25 radios for other operations in Newark, and I have not heard this analog activity at other airports, but I will be looking for these changes as I travel this week.


I have received some additional information on the "new" TSA radios, specifically they are using 169.1625 MHz, 131.8 pl with inversion scrambling in Oakland, CA (OAK) and I have personally confirmed that the TSA at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport (PHX) are using the Icom F50 radios on 172.1500, 123.0 pl with inversion scrambling.

They are still using the XTS P-25 radios, but only a few TSA officers (supervisors?) are carrying them. Almost all the screeners dealing with the public at security checkpoints were wearing the Icom radios. If you have the TSA programmed in your scanner as "digital only", watch out! They've taken a small step backwards to analog!

Monday, January 04, 2010

More TRBO On Federal Frequncies

On a recent trip out of Seattle, I started picking up what sounded like MotoTRBO digital signals on 407.9375 MHz somewhere south of town. I can not confirm who is using this frequency in the area yet, but my gut feeling is that it is one of the VA Medical Facilities in the area.

Washington DC Pit Stop

Just passed through Washington DC after New Years and had a couple of things to post about...

First, things were fairly quiet while I was there, but did hear a number of FBI repeaters key up with no one talking several times on Sunday the 3rd. The following frequencies all keyed up simultaneously and all were analog with a 167.9 CTCSS tone:


Secondly, there have been reports of a second site of the IWN federal trunked system being heard near Washington DC.

Somewhere in Washington area is IWN Site 160, usually heard with its control channel on 168.2625 MHz. I don't know exactly where the trunked site is located, as I have only picked it up marginally from downtown DC, near the Verizon Center. Recently a control channel on 171.4375 MHz has been heard somewhere in northeren Virginia. It reports as System 715, and Site 124. And Site 160 does not report this as a neighboring site yet.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Years Eve in NYC

Here is a quick After Action Report from Times Square this past Thursday evening. Obviously security concerns were at a peak after the attempted terror bombing on Christmas Day, so federal frequencies were very busy.

163.7500, N167
164.4000, N001 - USSS PAPA
164.7750, N167
165.2375, 100.0 - DHS CBP
165.9250, N167 - This frequency/NAC was used by FBI at MLB All Star Game at Yankees Stadium.
167.7875, N653 - NYC Federal Interop
167.7875, N94C - Confirmed, multiple transmissions using this NAC.
168.2250, N167 - NYC FBI G1/G2
168.8250, N167 - NYC FBI H1/H2, busiest frequency all night long.
169.7250, N864
170.3750, N167 - NYC FBI G5/G6
170.6250, N167 - NYC FBI C7
170.9000, N167 - NYC FBI, input to 168.8250? Also busy all night.
171.1750, N653 - Possible input to 167.7875
171.1750, N94C - Again, possible input to 167.7875
171.5500, N167
172.1875, N167
172.4250, N167 - NYC FBI B5/B6
173.6625, N167 - NYC FBI A1/A2
173.8125, 167.9 - Analog repeater w/DES

I wasn't able to hear much on the 406-420 federal channels due to interference from local UHF use near my location.