One of the world's largest urban fire and rescue services, Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) is made up of more than 6,800 fire fighters, 7,000 community fire-unit members, and 400 administrative and trades staff. It is one of the key agencies involved in most emergency or disaster events throughout the state of New South Wales, Australia. FRNSW operates more than 120 radio sites across the state—mostly in remote country areas, but also covering some major urban centres.
The organization needed to upgrade its existing end-of-life analog network, while also moving to a new spectrum band in order to comply with recent Australian Communications and Media Authority regulations.
FRNSW engaged with Tait Communications to commence their digital migration program following a technology evaluation in early 2012, beginning with a pilot network that needed to be deployed before the December 2012 bushfire season. Tait Project Manager, Mark Cahill, says, "Implementing pilot networks are an excellent way to reduce business risk as agencies are in a better position to properly assess the technology required before approaching any change."
Tait worked closely with FRNSW, conducting a high-level design and migration workshop to ensure their requirements and constraints were well understood. As a result, Tait designed and implemented a seven-site pilot network in the Monaro Region of New South Wales in just 43 working days, integrating a variety of partner products, such as MiMOMax linking, for a customized solution.
Tait P25 infrastructure requires minimal linking bandwidth and minimal physical space at each site, which represents value for money. This is particularly important when implementing a network in the back-country as towers and buildings can be very basic; Tait P25 infrastructure allows agencies to focus their investments in the network itself, rather than in bricks and steel.
"FRNSW have one channel group per Region, as it is a conventional system and the P25 TB9100 base stations provide one channel per sub-rack (requiring four rack units of space), per site. The MiMOMax radio links used at each site provide one link per site in two rack units. P25 links can require bandwidth of 108 kbps and MiMOMax is a very spectrally-efficient option for wireless IP links dedicated to critical communications networks. MiMOMax uses a 25 kHz UHF channel to deliver 160 kbps @ 16 QAM", says Mr Cahill.
Following the pilot phase (stage one) of seven sites deployed in the Monaro region, Tait has since deployed a further 16 sites to the NSW Far South West (stages two and three) which were completed on schedule and have delivered approximately 20% improvement in coverage compared to analog.
Tait, in close collaboration with FRNSW, are now preparing to deploy stages four and five which include a three-site expansion and Black Spot remediation in the Far South West (North) Region, deployment of ten-sites in the Castlereagh Region and seven sites in the Riverina Region. Deployment is due for completion in early 2015.