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PSP RADIO: THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

As has happened in other parts of Pennsylvania, the PSP have switched all ops to the Pa Statewide Radio Network, or PaSTAR-Net, which is an Opensky(TM) digital 800 MHz radio system. This same radio system is used by nearly all other PA State agencies, including PennDOT. We will be posting all available information here, including frequencies as they are confirmed. This is NOT the same as Westmoreland County's APCO P25 trunked system. It operates on different frequencies, and uses a different digital modulation technique known as TDMA (similar to that used by come cellular carriers.) At the current time, no commercially available scanners can receive and demodulate these communications.

All is not lost. The key phrase above is "no commercially available scanner" can receive this system. This is because the manufacturer of the computer chips used in this system will not license their technology to scanner manufacturers at this time. When/if they do, you can be it will drive the cost of receivers sky high.

According to the manufacturer, Harris Communications, "OpenSky is a secure integrated digital voice and data communication system. OpenSky leverages the power of Internet Protocol (IP) and packet technology for reliability and scalability to bring open data applications to the user. OpenSky uses a 19.2-kbps (800 MHz) physical bit rate 4-slot Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) airlink to achieve 6.25-kHz voice channel spectral efficiency and dynamic bandwidth allocation." Further research reveals that the vocoder method is AMBE+2 Half Rate and Enhanced Half Rate; the modulation method is 4-level GFSK and M4FM; and the data communication mode is half duplex.

OpenSky networks are based on the widely accepted IS-732 protocol to support mobile applications with end-to-end TCP/IP or UDP/IP connectivity. CDPD is defined in the IS-732 standard.

The system is not encrypted, so it is not illegal for computer geeks and hackers to do reverse engineering and develop hardware/software to demodulate Opensky(TM). One project currently underway is a computer program which would take the digital data from a conventional 800 MHz FM scanner and connect this to a computer's soundcard line-in jack. The program would then process the digital data and turn it into intelligible speech output to the computer's speakers. Best of all, this software would be FREE. That's what the open source software community is all about!!

This is not vaporware or an internet rumor. I have seen this system in development demodulating Westmoreland County's digital APCO25 system, and while it's not 100% there when compared to a $500 digital scanner, the results are amazing and have a lot of potential.

Keep the faith. And bookmark this page on pa2600.com for further updates. We will NOT rest until we can once again listen to routine unencrypted PSP radio traffic!!!

The Official Backstory....

Officially, the state says, "In 1996, the Pennsylvania statewide radio network (PA-STARNet) was initiated by Pennsylvania Legislative Act 148. Act 148 provided funding for a communication and information infrastructure, including approximately 200 sites located throughout this commonwealth for transmission of voice and data communication connected by a digital microwave system to form a statewide mobile radio network. PA-STARNet is one of the largest public safety communications systems in North America, and is one of the largest private microwave networks anywhere. It is used by state and local government agencies and business partners for agency dispatch and mobile voice and data communication for public safety and emergency response."

And you wonder why our taxes in PA are the highest in the nation!!!

HERE ARE SOME DOCUMENTS OUTLINING THE NEW PSP SYSTEM:

  • PSP Testimony before Senate Committee, October, 2007
  • Pa-STARNet Users Website
  • Pa Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP) *** GOOD **
  • STARNet Interoperability Standard Operating Procedures Manual *** GOOD ***

    OK, GEEKS: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL FCC DOCUMENT OUTLINING IN THE MANUFACTURER'S OWN WORDS HOW THEIR OPENSKY HARDWARE WORKS! and CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PRODUCT BROCHURE FILED WITH THE FCC DESCRIBING A BASE STATION UNIT OPERATION.

    Send any frequencies, questions or confirmations of above to COMMENTS2007 [at] pa2600 [dot] com.

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