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PA-STARNet

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.

 

Legacy: OpenSky Radio System (2003-2021)

  • Technology - 800 MHz proprietary network
  • 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 PTT calls 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.

 

New: P25 Radio System (2017+) (2018: 50% complete and operational)

  • Technology - VHF, UHF, 800 MHz open-standards network
  • Infrastructure - 85 VHF sites, 30 800-MHz sites
  • Coverage - Mobile radio coverage is greater than 95% in all 33 counties installed as of December 2018.
  • Users - 22 Commonwealth agencies; both houses of the legislature; federal, county, and municipal agencies; utility and public transit companies.
  • Interoperability - P25 provides expanded options to connect to all county 9-1-1 centers, and local agencies with P25 systems are finally able to easily interoperate or simply join.
To research approved radio equipment, go to Motorola or EFJohnson.

 

PA-STARNet Shared Services Opportunity:

The Commonwealth’s new P25 radio system (Phase II TDMA) represents an opportunity for counties to reduce costs as well as significantly improve interoperability.

Solution Highlights:
  • Greater than 95% mobile coverage for all 67 counties
  • Standards-based solution, fully APCO P25 compliant
  • Geographically separated redundant M3 zone core
  • Secure AES FIPS 140-2 encrypted communications
  • Link Layer Authentication supports enhanced radio security
  • All frequency bands supported
  • Enhanced capacity and redundancy
County Partnerships with PA-STARNet Advantages:
  • Reduced capital and operational costs
  • Greater competitive advantage in securing grant dollars
  • Interoperability across federal, state, and local agencies
  • Ability to maximize current and future investments at the state and local levels
  • Use of existing robust microwave backhaul network
  • Dedicated technical resources and maintenance team
  • Spectrum efficiency
  • Proven technology
  • Autonomous operation
Note: Partner provides additional frequency/channel capacity.

Partnership Types:
  • Shared Master Site
  • Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) connection to PA-STARNet
  • Inter-Zone connection with existing ASTRO 25 systems

 

Request for Services:

Send an email to radio@pa.gov 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.

 

Interoperability :

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 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:

 

Responsibility for PA-STARNet:

  • Statewide Radio Network Division - provides management, and administration for the design, development, operation, and maintenance of PA-STARNet, including support for agency and county adoption, use, and fleet management. Please refer to  Management Directive 245.15.
  • PA-STARNet Strategic Workgroup - Consisting of agency executives responsible for providing guidance, planning, and strategic implementation recommendations and as it relates to PA-STARNet to mitigate the challenges of interoperable communications for public safety and emergency communications.
  • PA-STARNet Operations Workgroup - Consisting 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 as well as information sharing among system users.

   

FirstNet:

FirstNet's contractor AT&T is building out the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) across the country. PA-FirstNet works with FirstNet and AT&T to provide outreach and education about the FirstNet NPSBN. All public safety entities should understand:

• 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

To watch the statewide webinar held on December 11, 2018, see statewide webinar. To read the questions and answers from the webinar, see FAQs.

Issues that require special attention include priority and preemption as well as interoperability. For an introduction to these issues, read these brief white papers: 

 

Contact:

Statewide Radio Network Division
Bureau of Communications and Information Services
Pennsylvania State Police
8001 Bretz Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17112
Phone: 717-787-8596
Fax: 717-346-5396
Email: radio@pa.gov