P25 Phase II Implementation - A Smarter Approach

APCO P25 Phase 2 doubles the capacity for voice channels on a radio network as compared to Phase 1. If a network is running out of capacity, radio or voice dispatch users may have to wait to make a call-otherwise, they get a busy tone. So, for sites where spectrum is scarce and the likelihood of finding additional channels when you need them is low, Phase 2 is a welcome addition to the family of P25 standards.

But not every agency needs to move to Phase 2 right away, and those who will don't necessarily have to move all at once. Since the standard allows for the mixing of Phase 1 and Phase 2 users on the same network, the migration process can be approached thoughtfully to find the best avenue forward for an agency’s situation.

For example, while many RFPs require Phase 2 capability, it isn't needed by every agency and, with the right partner and proper planning, may never be necessary. With every customer, the VESTA™ Radio team ensures a plan for capacity growth is in place from the very beginning.

"During the RFP and procurement, we work with our customers to define the capacity they need for the life of their system, which can be 10 to 20 years," said John Szpak, General Manager for VESTA Radio. "We use this information to properly design the system to meet their current and future needs right up front in the design phase."

In other situations where Phase 2 is needed, many agencies migrate users to Phase 2 in a staggered approach-as budgets allow-because there is a cost to migrate from Phase 1 to Phase 2. A customer with 1,000 P25 users and a network that is running low on capacity could move their 200 heaviest users to Phase 2 operation, immediately alleviating frequency congestion.

The City of Richardson, Texas and Airbus DS Communications are taking this smarter approach to implementing the Phase 2 P25 TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) radio standard. The City of Richardson currently has a four site P25 Phase 1 system and 1,000 users, which include Police, Fire, EMS, Public Works, Public Service, and the University of Texas at Dallas.

Several months ago, Airbus DS Communications and the City of Richardson, a VESTA Radio customer since 2012 and a VESTA® 9-1-1 customer since 1992, implemented a strategy and timeline to pilot a stand-alone Phase 2 system that runs side-by-side with the City's Phase 1 system. This provides the City and Airbus DS Communications a proving ground that gives both parties first-hand experience with Phase 2 and ensures a low-risk implementation path.

"Our goal is to move toward the latest and most advanced capabilities in the marketplace in a way that ensures no service disruption as well as the time to test and maximize the benefits we'll receive from Phase 2," said Brian Davis, Deputy CIO for the City of Richardson. "For the last four years the Airbus DS Communications team has worked with us to provide the best possible solution for our radio network. Now we are excited to be taking advantage of the P25 Phase 2 capability of the VESTA Radio system."

John added, "This important project will benefit all of our customers who want to implement Phase 2. It has been a great example of partnership and we are extremely appreciative of the City's commitment to collaboration and in providing their time and teams. We are working hand-in-hand to test and verify features and functionality as we bring on the different groups of users, starting with Public Works."

This deep collaboration is possible because of the trust Airbus DS Communications and Richardson have built over decades.

Bottom line: in any situation, Airbus DS Communications works with its customers to find the best and most affordable option for their particular needs.

For more information on the Phase 2 pilot and VESTA Radio, contact us at VESTAMarketing@airbus-dscomm.com.