The Pennsylvania Statewide Radio Network (PA-STARNet) is the commonwealth’s statewide wireless voice and data network for public safety and emergency response communications. Initiated by Act 148 of 1996, it replaced multiple incompatible radio systems used by various state government agencies.
PA-STARNet is used by 22 commonwealth agencies, both houses of the legislature, business partners and other external organizations including county and municipal agencies serving dispatch and mobile voice and data communications for public safety and emergency response.
- Infrastructure: 254 high-profile towers, 760 low-profile microcells.
- Coverage: Mobile radio coverage is greater than 95% signal strength in 65 of 67 counties
- Users: 25,756 subscriber devices are authorized for system use.
- Traffic: Users log an average of 141,640 calls (push-to-talks) daily.
- Interoperability: Gateways support data and voice communications among user groups, from state agencies to local first-responder dispatch centers, including all county 911 centers.
For more details, see our Fact Sheet (PDF).
Examples of system use:
- Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) - Data communications using computers in trooper vehicles support more than 27 million law enforcement database queries (CLEAN/NCIC) per year, as well as the use of Mobile Office applications such as messaging, alerts, and e mail; also, all 89 PSP-dispatched stations use PA-STARNet for voice communication.
- Department of Health - 133 fixed-location radios in hospitals and other facilities statewide provide redundancy for the Health Alert Network, part of Pennsylvania’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Program.
- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) - More than 600 mobile, V-TAC, hand-held, and fixed-location radios are used to coordinate with all county 911 centers as well as multiple state agencies.
- Department of Transportation - Approximately 7,000 mobile, hand-held, and fixed-location radios support routine operations such as highway maintenance and snow removal, for which they rely on PA-STARNet.
- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - 122 state parks and fire districts are served by a hybrid system that uses a VHF and 800Mhz and supports 2,160 mobile, hand-held, and fixed-location radios.
Broadband Communications Opportunities:
- System capacity increased, starting in 2012, funded by $28.8 million federal broadband stimulus grant.
- An additional 150 Mbps capacity was added to the PA-STARNet digital microwave network, using Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS).
- Connections are available to "last mile" providers (ISPs, telcos, cellular providers) and anchor institutions (schools, hospitals, public safety agencies).
- Available in 32 counties in northern Pennsylvania: MPLS Layer 2 Ethernet.
- Continuous network monitoring, 99.999% reliability and availability.
Tower Space Opportunities:
- Tower space available for commercial rent at approximately 150 sites
- Reciprocal agreements for public safety through county governments
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) is a stakeholder-driven, multi-jurisdictional, and multi-disciplinary statewide strategic plan to enhance interoperable and emergency communications. The SCIP is a strategic planning tool to help Pennsylvania prioritize resources, strengthen governance, identify future investments, and address interoperability gaps.
By overlaying the commonwealth’s 800 MHz system with a network of UHF and VHF repeaters and mapping each repeater to an OpenSky talk group, the state allows users of other radio systems to communicate directly with state agencies. For details, refer to the following documents:
Request for Services:
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request services from PA-STARNet, such as broadband connectivity or space on commonwealth-owned towers. Please make sure to include complete and accurate contact information to allow us to respond to your request.
A series of short training videos is available in the PA-STARNet channel in Youtube. Video courses cover basic operation of the M7200 and M-803 mobile radios and the P7200 portable radio. Playlists, which appear below the player on the channel's main page, arrange the videos by radio type.
Responsibility for PA-STARNet:
- Statewide Radio Network Division - provides management, and administration for the design, development, and operation of PA-STARNet, including support for agency adoption, use, and fleet management.
Please refer to Management Directive 245.15.
- Public Safety Communications Council - Executives from using agencies and agencies responsible for system management and administration provide direction and policy for development and operation.
- PA-STARNet Operations Committee - Consisting primarily of operational-level representatives from using agencies, provides a forum to discuss PA-STARNet status, development, policy, interoperability, and other key issues, resulting in guidance for PA-STARNet management and administration as well as information sharing among system users.
In 2018, FirstNet and its contractor AT&T will build out and launch the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) across the country.
In November 2017, Governor Wolf allowed AT&T to build the Radio Access Network (RAN) portion of the NPSBN in Pennsylvania, instead of building the RAN ourselves. This executive statement of concurrence does not commit any public safety entity in Pennsylvania to subscribe to the FirstNet NPSBN.
PA-FirstNet will continue to provide outreach and education about the FirstNet NPSBN. We will do our best to make it clear:
- You may subscribe to the FirstNet NPSBN.
- You do not have to subscribe to the FirstNet NPSBN.
- You should carefully assess your options for public safety broadband by asking questions about:
- device costs and pricing plans
- priority and pre-emption features
- local coverage and capacity
- network resiliency, especially during major emergencies and regional power outages
- access to a store for useful interoperable apps
- cybersecurity and agency privacy
Prior to 2018, the PA-FirstNet team surveyed first responders for their requirements and collected 168 MB of data in 944 files. We also made 173 outreach and education presentations and addressed more than 4,000 potential stakeholders where we delivered information about FirstNet's planned NPSBN in Pennsylvania.
Statewide Radio Network Division
Bureau of Communications and Information Services
Pennsylvania State Police
8001 Bretz Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17112