Category Archives: New System Project

Clifford Paging Tower Risen

The paging tower in the Village of Clifford, Burlington Township has been erected. Crews from E.R.S., Pyramid Network Services and Motorola worked through the bitter cold to construct the 160′ tower and the site ground work over the last few weeks.

DTE Energy is expected to bring electricity to the site possibly by the end of this week. Once hooked up, Blumerich Communications and Motorola engineer’s can install the equipment and bring the site online.

The shelter and generator used in Clifford are the same ones that were used in Imlay City on the old radio system. By reusing them, we were able to save money in not having to purchase new ones.

This northern site is set up to be a directional site radiating RF in a southerly direction bringing in much needed VHF coverage for fire and EMS personnel in the north part of the county.

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Almont Paging Site At Maximum Power

AlmontWaterTowerYesterday, Motorola, ERS and Blumerich Communications installed a new, directional, VHF paging antenna at the Almont water tower. This was done as part of the FCC license appeal for more power. With the directional antenna, it will focus more signal inwards to Lapeer County, avoiding potential interference with users in Canada.

Additionally, after the new antenna was installed, the transmitter power was boosted to 100% of its capability. Due to original license restrictions, this site was pushing 13 watts at the base station or 22 watts of ERP (effective radiated power) at the antenna. Now, at 100%, the site is pushing 100 watts at the base station and 209 watts ERP.

Users in Almont and Dryden should see a significant improvement in paging quality.

On a related note, preparation of the new VHF paging site in Clifford is underway. The Construction Code Authority has issued the site an address as of yesterday. We are waiting on one last environmental study to conclude before we can proceed any further. As soon as that is secured, DTE Energy can be scheduled to bring electricity to the site and Motorola & its contractors can begin ground work and building the site.

FCC Grants Lapeer County Full Power on Paging System

IMG_3199On August 6, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission granted a request to allow Lapeer County Central Dispatch to broadcast maximum power on all VHF paging sites. These sites and the paging system are used to page the fire departments and Lapeer County EMS for calls for service.

Initially, the license did not allow maximum power output due to potential interference with adjoining frequencies in Canada. This severely and adversely affected our ability to page our first responders in many areas of the County. In addition to the lower power, narrow-banding also played a part in the reduced ability and quality of paging. Narrow-banding was a nation-wide FCC mandate to cut channel spacing in half in the VHF spectrum in order to allow more users into it.

An appeal was made to the FCC and subsequently Canada to allow us maximum power. Many engineering studies and collected survey data points from the fire and EMS service was submitted as evidence and supporting data for the appeal.

After their review, the FCC and Canada gave the okay and re-issued the license.

Part of the appeal required that a new directional antenna be placed in Almont in place of the existing omni-directional antenna. At this time, Almont remains on low power until the new antenna is in place. We’re hoping it arrives and can be installed within the next week or two. Contractors are being lined up and availability checked. Once the new antenna is in place, the power of the site will be turned up.

Lastly, the new tower being built in Clifford for the paging system is in progress. An application to the Construction Code Authority has been submitted for an address to be assigned. Then DTE Energy can bring electricity to the site and construction can begin.

Approved: Paging Tower In Clifford Village

Yesterday evening the Clifford Village Council unanimously approved the construction of a fire/EMS paging tower on Village property and advised that construction could begin immediately.

radio_towerHowever, we still need to wait on several federal environmental studies to conclude in the next couple of weeks as well as FCC license modifications.

Motorola will begin ordering the steel and associated equipment for the site and electronics which shouldn’t take too long to come in.

This paging tower will bring much needed coverage to the northernmost portions of the county. We will have the antenna’s pointing in a directional pattern toward the south to cover Clifford, Burlington Township and parts of Rich and North Branch Township’s.

By increasing the coverage footprint in these area’s, the fire departments, medical first responders and Lapeer County EMS ambulances will better be able to receive their calls for service from dispatch. In turn they will be able to get a better response in terms of personnel and timeliness.

Shelter Move: North Branch to Columbiaville

Last week the shelter and generator that we have been using in North Branch since 1996 was lifted and moved to our new paging location in Columbiaville. We’ve moved away from the North Branch site to avoid paying continuing rental fees to American Tower Corporation. This site will also bring improved coverage to the Columbiaville and Otter Lake areas for EMS and fire paging.

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The next steps for the Columbiaville site are to bring electricity to the site, install the equipment and then provide connectivity back to the main system. At this time, it is undetermined how long it will take to get connectivity as we are still working out those details.

Below is an 18 minute video cut of the lifting and setting of the shelter and generator.

[youtube http://youtu.be/11hgB4QS9x0]

FCC Approves VHF Paging License

This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved our amended license for VHF paging for fire and EMS service paging.FCC-logo

LCCD and Motorola are looking to start up the new system and narrow-band the 500+ pagers in the next several weeks.

LCCD would also like to thank the FCC, Industry Canada and Congresswoman Miller’s office for their efforts and work on the license.

Lapeer County Switches to Digital

logoAfter several years of work, Lapeer County Central Dispatch switched from an analog radio system to a digital radio system at 12:05pm on December 18, 2012.

We have doubled the amount of radio towers we use from three to six. We now have sites in Almont Village, Metamora Village, Imlay City, Lapeer City, Burnside Township and Deerfield Township. We absorbed the State of Michigan’s Deerfield site into our simulcast as part of the project.

The analog system had ten frequencies and two of them were dedicated for data usage while the remaining eight were left for voice channels in the trunking system. The new digital system now has fourteen frequencies allotted for voice. Data is no longer used since we changed to a cellular configuration earlier in the year for police in-car computers.

Also, the analog system had a total of 72 talkgroups and through some changes in setups, the digital system has a total of 74 talkgroups available to the various Lapeer County users plus a plethora of neighboring county and state talkgroups.

Lapeer County users are among the first in the state to be ready and capable of utilizing 700MHz frequencies should they become available in the area. Our radios are already programmed for it which means if that time comes, we shouldn’t have to make a fleet-wide change to accommodate it.

We contracted with Motorola Solutions for 95% county-wide coverage on a 3-watt portable radio. Due to FAA regulations at the Metamora site, we had to reduce the tower height by 80 feet which put our coverage projections to 94.96% coverage. Once we completed actual coverage tests earlier this month, we ended up with an amazing 99.89% coverage throughout the county. That includes attenuating the test radios at -15db to simulate in-building coverage in the city/village areas of the county. The rest of the county had the test radio set to be attenuated at -6db to simulate vegetation on the trees.

On the day of the system cut-over, at about 9:00am we began processes of shutting down half of the analog system, moving feed lines and other things at the MPSCS Deerfield site and then turning on half of the channels in the new system. Then the MPSCS began enabling all of our new talkgroups on our towers and surrounding towers. By about 10:30am we began moving users over to the digital system. Once roll call radio checks and pager tests were complete, we finished the cut-over process by turning off the remaining channels of the analog system and turned on the remaining channels in the new system. By 12:05pm the analog system was completely shutdown and all users were operating on the new system.

We are still operating on our old paging system due to licensing issues with the FCC and Canadian Coordination for our VHF frequency. The FCC has granted us a time waiver for the narrowbanding requirement that we must meet. The old paging system is incapable of being narrowbanded. Once we get a license for the new paging system and turn it on, we will be in compliance as that system is already narrowbanded to 12.5KHz.