July 13, 2015 bktech

From Our Files: A Brief History of P25 Radios

P25 (or Project 25 as it was originally named) was the result of cooperation between various regulatory agencies and leaders in the telecommunications industry. Recognizing a need for a uniform means of communication, standards for digital LMR (Land Mobile Radio) were established in 1989. The result is a system of radios that can communicate in either digital or analog mode with other P25 radios, or in analog mode with legacy radios.

When developing a new LMR standard, several important needs had to be addressed. These included:

  • Interoperability between equipment from various manufacturers
  • Reliable performance to support public safety operations
  • Ability to perform across urban, rural and undeveloped environments, and with older equipment.
  • Coverage across wide areas with minimal towers.
  • Reduce bandwidth use, while maintaining audio quality and improving encryption.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) published the first set of standards, known as TIA-102 in 1989. The TIA operates under the jurisdiction of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Supporters and collaborators in the formulation and implementation of these standards include public safety organizations on the international and federal level.

Since the first incarnation of the standards over 25 years ago, refinements and adjustments have been made as technology has evolved. Today, P25 radios prove to be versatile communication devices with a high level of interoperability. So when disaster strikes or interagency communication is needed (as described last week), P25 radios can bridge the gap between agencies or departments that use P25-compliant devices. Does your department have the equipment to speak this universal language? If not, consider integrating P25 radios today.

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