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Moto Trbo System Comparasons

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tdats
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Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby tdats » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:11 am

Our county decided a couple of years ago to move one of our analog VHF services over to Trbo Digital. We are currently running 4 un-linked analog repeaters, north, south, east and west. 3 of the 4 sites have been upgraded to MTR3000 repeaters already, the 4th is still a MTR2000. This is being used by our fire departments.

I have read a lot of the discussions and debates on public safety using trbo, and am not looking to re-start those conversations. What I am looking for is recommendations, or comparisons on what sort of system we should build. I am hoping to get some un-biased opinions from some of the great members of this group that do not have a financial stake on our purchase.

I did find this PDF that compares some features: http://www.rfstore.com/collateral/MOTOTRBO_solutions/MOTOTRBO_Two-way_Radio_Selection_Guide.pdf Is there an updated PDF showing the newer models of radios? (I see the SL300 is missing)

Anyone have pros and cons of the different systems? For example, I use a connect plus system. For me a con is that it is option board based so it introduces issues like not being able to mix simplex and trunked channels in a zone. Pro with the constant control channel transmit radios roam very quickly and reliably. Big con is the cost for the controllers.

Any opinions?

Thanks!

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FMROB
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby FMROB » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:34 pm

Well, I guess it really depends on your needs. If you are manually roaming between the sites, then I would assume that simple IP site connect would work well for you. Will automatically roam and makes it a true wide area system.

If you are looking to increase capacity (user wise) then look at linked capacity plus trunking. Same concept as IPSC, however it allows you to leverage trunking between time slots. It also has a little bit of intelligence built in to allow for certain site to only light up with certain users.

Both have many different considerations, what is your current operation?

Rob

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tdats
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby tdats » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:51 am

Our current operation is 4 analog repeaters with the same input and output frequency. The input PL's are different for each repeater, the output is the same PL so people manually pick north, south, west or east. This is proving to be pretty difficult for our users as there is a lot of overlapping coverage.

When on scene, they typically move to a simplex analog channel for fireground operations.

The main goal would be automatic roaming.

User wise, it is starting to look like we would have 3 user groups on the system, our county road commission, our commission on aging buses, and our fire departments.

It's kinda looking like linked capacity plus might be a good fit for us. Our initial project is just fire, but combining things together makes a lot of economical sense in the future. (not paying double the tower rent, not needing 2 internet links, etc)

Am I reading the spec stuff right that if I wanted 6 talk paths I would need 3 repeaters at each site? Can we do linked cap plus with a single repeater and add repeaters?

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby tvsjr » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:06 am

Capacity Plus by definition includes multiple repeaters. If you just want one repeater at each site, you run IP Site Connect (this is what the various DMR ham networks use, often in combination with a C-Bridge to get around the 15 site limitation).

If you want 6 simultaneous talk paths, yes, you would need 3 repeaters. With something like a C-Bridge, you have much more control on what gets forwarded to other repeaters and what doesn't.

However you go, I would strongly recommend you consider what happens when IP fails. Can dispatch access each of the repeaters directly? How do the FFs get notified, check enroute, etc.? Think through those scenarios. This goes about 1,000% if you're planning to link using commodity IP, not leased lines or dedicated microwave.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby RFguy » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:36 am

Capacity Plus does not need to be multiple repeaters. We have several installations of capacity plus with just one repeater. It allows for multiple groups to share the 2 time slots.

JRayfield
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby JRayfield » Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:33 pm

Not only can you set up one repeater with Capacity Plus as a "2 channel trunking system", but the FCC will license it as a trunking system (YG), since there are two 'voice paths' being trunked. This also then means that you can get an FB8 (protected) frequency for a single repeater (assuming that such frequencies are available in your area), which is not possible with a single-talk-path repeater (like with analog or FDMA-based systems such as NXDN). This can be a BIG advantage of MOTOTRBO Capacity Plus (or Linked Capacity Plus) over most other radio systems.

John Rayfield, Jr.
Rayfield Communications
Springfield, MO
www.rayfield.net

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Bill_G
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby Bill_G » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:03 pm

JRayfield wrote:Not only can you set up one repeater with Capacity Plus as a "2 channel trunking system", but the FCC will license it as a trunking system (YG), since there are two 'voice paths' being trunked. This also then means that you can get an FB8 (protected) frequency for a single repeater (assuming that such frequencies are available in your area), which is not possible with a single-talk-path repeater (like with analog or FDMA-based systems such as NXDN). This can be a BIG advantage of MOTOTRBO Capacity Plus (or Linked Capacity Plus) over most other radio systems.

John Rayfield, Jr.


That's interesting to know. Thx!

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tdats
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby tdats » Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:54 am

Great information everyone, I appreciate it.

I totally agree with the Ip connection parts. Right now our road commission is using IP site connect with 2 sites and will be switching from a dedicated IP link to an internet connection provided by an ISP. We will see how that goes. I don't like the idea myself. (They are switching because of financial reasons, changing tower locations and such) Licensing will be my next project to tackle. VHF FB8 pairs are hard to come by up here in Michigan.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby JRayfield » Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:33 am

I've had about 16 years of experience in using internet for connecting between repeater sites (built one of the first IP-connected repeater networks in the U.S. in 1999). Currently, we're using internet connections for our Linked Capacity Plus system throughout S.W. Missouri. Reliability of using the internet for connecting MOTOTRBO systems is all dependent upon the local ISP that you're using. For our main site in Springfield, MO, we're using fiber from the City of Springfield's system and it's very good. We're using DSL from CenturyLink at our Branson, MO site and it's been excellent (I think it's gone down two or three times in 16 years maybe? It's amazingly good). We're using DSL from Windstream at two other locations and they've been excellent (a few outages, maybe, in 16 years, and that includes one lightning strike at one site). On the other hand, in one area that I know of, CenturyLink service has been good, but not 'excellent', partially due to them overselling their service, such that at peak times they experience what they call "bandwidth exhaustion" (too many people watching NetFlix <G>). They're supposed to have that problem resolved within a couple of months. In that same area, there have also been several times that the system experienced other problems, over the last 12 months or so. So, where CenturyLink service is so good in one area, they may not be as good in another, but overall, they're not 'bad'.

We've also used wireless internet service from an ISP. How well that works is dependent upon how well the WISP's system is designed and what kind of equipment they use. We've had good results and we've had very very bad results with some wireless internet services.

I would never ever consider trying to use any kind of cable company's internet service for IP site linking. Our experience with cable internet service has been that, when it works, it works very good, but the reliability is extremely poor, usually such service going completely down at least once a month. This has been our experience with several different companies.

In summary, our experience in using internet connectivity for IP site linking has been very good, including when using DSL circuits. It isn't like having dedicated IP connections between the sites, but if the ISP is providing good quality and reliable service, then it does work well with MOTOTRBO for those situations where the cost of dedicated IP connections is just 'too much'.

John Rayfield, Jr.


tdats wrote:Great information everyone, I appreciate it.

I totally agree with the Ip connection parts. Right now our road commission is using IP site connect with 2 sites and will be switching from a dedicated IP link to an internet connection provided by an ISP. We will see how that goes. I don't like the idea myself. (They are switching because of financial reasons, changing tower locations and such) Licensing will be my next project to tackle. VHF FB8 pairs are hard to come by up here in Michigan.
Rayfield Communications
Springfield, MO
www.rayfield.net

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Bill_G
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby Bill_G » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:02 pm

+1 on using telco DSL over Cable isp. CenturyLink and Frontier have been great. Secondary sellers off the same wire, like Integra, get you slightly lower monthly with the same reliability. Some of the rural outlining areas have more outages, but they have still proven to be two nines reliable while urban service is easily four nines. That really is about as good as leased lines ever were. Comcast OTOH has been a horror story. Odd outages. Carrier present but no connectivity. And then suddenly it's back. Problems with latency make ip phone clumsier than cellphones. When customers want me to drill their ip radio through their enterprise, I have similar issues. We roll the dice and hope for success. Love DSL's. Not so pleased with anything else.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby escomm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:00 pm

Can't say I am with using DSL over cable. When your DSL line goes down you can wait a long time for a repair. Probably just your line that went bad. When a cable line goes down, the whole node is down, and the cable company has a good incentive to fix it quick. I am a bit surprised that the words Frontier and CenturyLink and good or great are being used in the same sentence. I can't say I've had the same experience, although it has been limited.

Bill. I am shocked you're advocating a phone company over a cable company. Just shocked.

Also, can we talk about leased lines? AT&T and Verizon are under the impression that "right now, it's public safety" means "we'll dispatch a tech in 3 days and he's probably going to need to come back with a buddy so that'll be another 3 days"

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby tvsjr » Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:35 pm

Personally, if I wasn't doing "real" transport (licensed microwave, etc.) I wouldn't rely on a single method of transport. Install one of the higher-end Cradlepoint routers, or a Cisco router with 4G card installed, and use LTE as a backup to whatever circuit you pull in. Still not foolproof, but certainly an improvement.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby Bill_G » Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:03 pm

tvsjr wrote:Personally, if I wasn't doing "real" transport (licensed microwave, etc.) I wouldn't rely on a single method of transport. Install one of the higher-end Cradlepoint routers, or a Cisco router with 4G card installed, and use LTE as a backup to whatever circuit you pull in. Still not foolproof, but certainly an improvement.


Until you run in a busy cell site. Then the link can fail during peak hours. Works fine during off peak. Cradlepoint does make a nice product though. Fills the gap when nothing else will.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby Bill_G » Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:22 pm

escomm wrote:Can't say I am with using DSL over cable. When your DSL line goes down you can wait a long time for a repair. Probably just your line that went bad. When a cable line goes down, the whole node is down, and the cable company has a good incentive to fix it quick. I am a bit surprised that the words Frontier and CenturyLink and good or great are being used in the same sentence. I can't say I've had the same experience, although it has been limited.

Bill. I am shocked you're advocating a phone company over a cable company. Just shocked.

Also, can we talk about leased lines? AT&T and Verizon are under the impression that "right now, it's public safety" means "we'll dispatch a tech in 3 days and he's probably going to need to come back with a buddy so that'll be another 3 days"



Oh, I've met more than my share of telco dolts who think all DSL is for hot-n-cold running porn and Netflix. It doesn't occur to them people might dispatch over it. It's one of the reasons I contract Integra. Besides a price reduction, they manage the copper, and get fairly rapid response from the telco carrier when it's a twisted pair problem. Overall, my experience with CenturyLink and Frontier have been really good especially compared to Comcast. Even most of the small community telcos in Oregon are better than Comcast. But! We have a PUC here that governs telcos, and even though DSL service is technically exempted from oversight, because there is a landline number associated with the service, the carriers have to be Johnny Be Quick when responding to an outage. Comcast is entirely exempt, and sometimes act like they could give a hoot nor a holler about your connection. Obviously, YMMV applies, and in some areas, the differences in experiences will be enormous.

Shoot, we've got railroads with DSL service down in Brazil that have never had a problem, but large well known multinational companies (that I'm not allowed to write their names) that have problems weekly with their corporate enterprise. It's kind of hilarious when people that should have a bulletproof network have totally darkness between regions for days at a time. Frightening actually.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby tvsjr » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:04 am

Bill_G wrote:
tvsjr wrote:Personally, if I wasn't doing "real" transport (licensed microwave, etc.) I wouldn't rely on a single method of transport. Install one of the higher-end Cradlepoint routers, or a Cisco router with 4G card installed, and use LTE as a backup to whatever circuit you pull in. Still not foolproof, but certainly an improvement.


Until you run in a busy cell site. Then the link can fail during peak hours. Works fine during off peak. Cradlepoint does make a nice product though. Fills the gap when nothing else will.


Well, I'd only suggest the LTE link for a backup. Rely on the DSL/cable/etc., but have another option. And, since TRBO is fairly low bandwidth, even on a busy cell site, you still have a decent chance of it actually working.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby Bill_G » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:47 am

tvsjr wrote:
Bill_G wrote:
tvsjr wrote:Personally, if I wasn't doing "real" transport (licensed microwave, etc.) I wouldn't rely on a single method of transport. Install one of the higher-end Cradlepoint routers, or a Cisco router with 4G card installed, and use LTE as a backup to whatever circuit you pull in. Still not foolproof, but certainly an improvement.


Until you run in a busy cell site. Then the link can fail during peak hours. Works fine during off peak. Cradlepoint does make a nice product though. Fills the gap when nothing else will.


Well, I'd only suggest the LTE link for a backup. Rely on the DSL/cable/etc., but have another option. And, since TRBO is fairly low bandwidth, even on a busy cell site, you still have a decent chance of it actually working.


We've had issues with LTE only connections. There's a large healthcare provider with an uncooperative IS dept that never fulfilled a request to provide connectivity between properties for the UHF IPSC system. They stayed stand alone on site repeaters for almost two years before we gave up, and put the system on a CradlePoint / Verizon backbone. Generally works fine, but during peak times (late weekday afternoons into the early evening), voices get "bubblely", whole words lost, and multiple attempts required to talk between properties. On site is always perfect. Between sites can be challenging sometimes. A one nine solution.

On the plus side, glass half full, because it's on the public internet through LTE, we can access the system remotely.

We also use LTE only connections for temporary deployments like the annual Hood to Coast run. The route changes slightly every year, so coverage requirements change. A rolling van and several stationary repeaters linked by LTE fulfill the need quite well.

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby tdats » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:24 pm

How do the various linked systems handle roaming? Do the repeaters transmit some sort of heartbeat, do the radios transmit every so often to see if the repeater is there?

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby desperado » Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:55 am

Couple things to consider. TRBO modulation for whatever reason carries over the air very well. Break out an Ohio map and find Fayette county and Licking county. Fayette went TRBO running VHF running 40 watt XPR8300's and Licking County was running 65 watt 5 site analog simulcast. The two systems shared the output repeater frequency (155.415) and were interferring with each other. The TRBO was being heard in Licking county on portables and mobiles after transmissions were complete before the loss if PL would silence the radios in Licking county. That wasn't a big deal...but the customer was not impressed. The bigger issue was the RF from the Licking county system was getting down to Fayette county and the digital was being interfered with to the point they couldn't talk on that frequency in parts of the county when the Licking County system was transmitting. I was told by the salesmen here that the FCC would no longer grant a public safety TRBO license over 10 watts because of all the interference issues they had to deal with because of issues like ours. Both counties ended up on the state wide ASTRO system but we actually had to buy back the fayette county system over the issues because it simply didn't work. I would look very hard at who else in the regional area is running your frequencies before making a jump to TRBO. It can certainly be a headache.
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby JRayfield » Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:58 am

The specifics vary, depending upon whether it's IP Site Connect (IPSC) or Linked Capacity Plus (LCP) or Connect Plus (Cap+). I'm mostly familiar with IPSC and LCP.

On IPSC systems, the repeaters transmit a beacon every 'x' seconds (programmable in the repeater). This beacon is used by the mobile/portable radios for roaming, when the repeaters are not 'active' with traffic.

If a subscriber 'hears' the beacon (during repeater non-activity) or 'hears' the repeater but it's active with a different talkgroup than what that subscriber is programmed for, then the subscriber will roam to the site with the best signal (this is assuming that the subscriber is not 'locked' onto a repeater (where the signal received by the subscriber is above the programmed RSSI threshold level).

If the repeaters are active with traffic on the same talkgroup as the subscriber (so the subscriber begins to receive a transmission on its talkgroup), then the subscriber will not actually 'roam', but will 'scan' to the first channel/repeater on which it's receiving the transmission.

LCP works similarly to IPSC, although there are some differences in how the roaming works 'internally' in the subscribers. LCP roaming tends to work a bit better, overall, as compared to IPSC roaming. But, both work well, if the systems are designed correctly.

The beacon 'interval' on IPSC systems can be programmed down to as 'quick' as 10 seconds. On LCP systems, the default is 2 seconds. We've found that the faster the beacon 'interval', the better the roaming will work in an IPSC system. So, if the frequencies on an IPSC system will 'support' it (few or no co-channel users), setting the beacon time to 10 seconds will greatly improve the roaming 'performance' of those systems, as compared to longer beacon intervals (such as 30 seconds or 60 seconds).

If a subscriber in an LCP system doesn't hear the beacon, or 'activity' from a repeater for a certain length of time (I can't remember what that time period is), then it will go into an 'Out of Range' condition and start roaming. As soon as it 'hears' a repeater (or multiple repeaters) again, then it will 'choose' the best repeater and then it will attempt to 'handshake' with that repeater. There is no 'handshake' with a repeater in an IPSC system. So, LCP is more 'active' with regards to roaming, where IPSC is more 'passive' with regards to roaming.

John Rayfield, Jr.

tdats wrote:How do the various linked systems handle roaming? Do the repeaters transmit some sort of heartbeat, do the radios transmit every so often to see if the repeater is there?
Rayfield Communications
Springfield, MO
www.rayfield.net

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby JRayfield » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:28 am

The frequency coordinators were limiting the power output of MOTOTRBO repeaters, on VHF public safety frequencies, to 10 watts, for a while (This wasn't done for more than about 1 year, at most). But that was several years ago and they are now coordinating them at higher power levels again (and have been for some time now). However, due to how well MOTOTRBO signals 'propagate', the public safety frequency coordinators are being extra careful about how they coordinate MOTOTRBO systems and will often limit the power output of repeaters to half of what would be allowed for an analog FM repeater at the same location. This has not been any problem at all, in any of our experiences.

In several MOTOTRBO systems (including our own UHF business LCP system), we've reduced repeater transmit power substantially below the licensed power levels. In one VHF public safety system that we work with (a county-wide system for a sheriff's office), we reduced 4 repeaters out of 5, from 45 watts to 20 watts. One site was still 'overpowering' the rest of the system, so we put an attenuator in the transmit line to the duplexer to reduce the power output into the duplexer to about 6 watts. So far, the users of this system have seen no reduction in coverage in the area that they're working and this better 'balanced' the roaming in the system.

MOTOTRBO systems should not be designed using the 'old' ideas of 2-way radio system design (as much power, with as high an antenna as possible). That is a 'formula' for a very poor operating MOTOTRBO system where there are multiple sites with repeater-to-subscriber coverage overlap between repeaters. These systems must be designed in the same way that cellular systems are designed, with lower antenna heights, lower repeater power output in some cases, and if more coverage is needed, more sites (and the MOTOTRBO Voting systems work extremely well for increasing portable radio talkback coverage instead of adding more repeaters to the system).

As to 'interference issues' with MOTOTRBO, many of those have been caused by the improper design of the MOTOTRBO systems. Designing them in the same ways that we used to 'design' analog systems, is nothing more than a recipe for 'disaster'.

John Rayfield Jr.

desperado wrote:Couple things to consider. TRBO modulation for whatever reason carries over the air very well. Break out an Ohio map and find Fayette county and Licking county. Fayette went TRBO running VHF running 40 watt XPR8300's and Licking County was running 65 watt 5 site analog simulcast. The two systems shared the output repeater frequency (155.415) and were interferring with each other. The TRBO was being heard in Licking county on portables and mobiles after transmissions were complete before the loss if PL would silence the radios in Licking county. That wasn't a big deal...but the customer was not impressed. The bigger issue was the RF from the Licking county system was getting down to Fayette county and the digital was being interfered with to the point they couldn't talk on that frequency in parts of the county when the Licking County system was transmitting. I was told by the salesmen here that the FCC would no longer grant a public safety TRBO license over 10 watts because of all the interference issues they had to deal with because of issues like ours. Both counties ended up on the state wide ASTRO system but we actually had to buy back the fayette county system over the issues because it simply didn't work. I would look very hard at who else in the regional area is running your frequencies before making a jump to TRBO. It can certainly be a headache.
Rayfield Communications
Springfield, MO
www.rayfield.net

desperado
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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby desperado » Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:44 pm

Well, that pretty much sums up how it was done. IT was a new system as the TRBO product line was being released and was put together by old guard folks. We have a connect plus system that the one site is completely enveloped by the second sites coverage area. They were two seperate LTR systems and became a single connect plus system because they didn't want to move either site. I had a new site lined up. Mind you it had twice the foot print of the other site, was cheaper on rent but it's coverage would nave not overlapped near as bad to the west were the Columbus site was. The other thought was to pull the high gain antenna off the Columbus site and simply use it for fill in downtown. The owners would have nothing to do with it and the system sort of works.
Keith
CET USMSS
Field Tech
What more can I say

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Re: Moto Trbo System Comparasons

Postby JRayfield » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:41 pm

That's a shame. When MOTOTRBO systems don't work well, then people start thinking (and talking about) that the technology is 'bad'. And that is SO far from the truth. MOTOTRBO is fantastic, if it's implemented properly.

John Rayfield, Jr.

desperado wrote:Well, that pretty much sums up how it was done. IT was a new system as the TRBO product line was being released and was put together by old guard folks. We have a connect plus system that the one site is completely enveloped by the second sites coverage area. They were two seperate LTR systems and became a single connect plus system because they didn't want to move either site. I had a new site lined up. Mind you it had twice the foot print of the other site, was cheaper on rent but it's coverage would nave not overlapped near as bad to the west were the Columbus site was. The other thought was to pull the high gain antenna off the Columbus site and simply use it for fill in downtown. The owners would have nothing to do with it and the system sort of works.
Rayfield Communications
Springfield, MO
www.rayfield.net


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