Evaluate available technologies
With a good understanding of your status quo and the future needs of your system’s users, it is time to determine which technology might best fit for project. While this guide is written chiefly for Public Safety buyers of P25 systems, in some cases it is not your only feasible option. If you are not sure which way to go and cannot afford a consultant to help you, consider issuing a Request For Information (RFI). This does not carry any commercial obligation on your part and will greatly improve your understanding of the current options.
There are, of course, good reasons why P25 is the best choice for most Public Safety agencies.
- Several Federal or State grants require P25 compliance.
- P25 interoperability gives you the ability to program your radios and roam on your neighbors’ networks and allow them to use your system. This is hard to overvalue, especially in times of crisis.
- After the slow start, the competition between P25 vendors is now delivering real results in the terms of project costs, user equipment pricing, quality, functionality and other areas.
When to consider non-P25 systems
When should Public Safety officials look at non-P25 systems for First Responders? It is difficult to come up with such scenarios. Agencies that procure non-P25 systems to replace their old analog systems usually cite price as the decisive factor, but that argument is now outdated, typically based on prices that are several years old. They may also be based on the false assumption that all P25 networks are high-end, complex and expensive. In reality, you can procure a highly functional, simple P25 system and user equipment at a cost rivalling proprietary digital or high end Public Safety grade analog technologies.
If you have a well-functioning conventional analog system that meets your needs other than capacity or coverage, you can augment it with additional channels and sites.
Otherwise, P25 is more than likely your best option.
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