01/06/14 — Radio system on next agenda

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Radio system on next agenda

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 6, 2014 1:46 PM

How to correct problems with the county's beleaguered $10 million communications system is expected to be back before Wayne County commissioners when they meet Tuesday morning.

Commissioners discussed a contract with Cary-based Radio Communications Co. for improvements to the system during a Friday evening closed session.

The contract was not discussed when the board returned to open session, but commissioners did approve a motion to add the topic to their Tuesday agenda.

The meeting will get under way with an agenda briefing at 8 a.m., followed by the regular session at 9 a.m. Both will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The project is expected to cost $3 million, and the contract includes a performance bond.

The county plans to use money from three different restricted funds to pay for the work: cable TV franchise, $2,262,548.32; capital reserves, $326,179.68; and radio fund, $472,353, for a total of $3,001,081.

The county approved borrowing $9.7 million in September 2008 for a new digital system designed to replace the nearly 40-year-old analog system. The federal government mandated the switch to digital systems.

The original project included two new towers and portable and mobile radios for all of the fire, law enforcement and rescue agencies in the county, including municipalities.

A primary concern about the existing system is that it fails to provide adequate coverage under the 95/95 concept. That means that a system will cover 95 percent of the county 95 percent of the time.

Radio Communications Co. officials have recommended the following:

* Develop two new tower sites, one east of Goldsboro and one west of the city

* Develop a new VHF antenna system at all seven sites

* Upgrade the existing microwave radio network

* Integrate existing portable and mobile radios into the network switching center

* Perform testing and coverage verification.

The county will provide the land at no cost to RCC to develop the tower site east of Goldsboro. RCC will be responsible for securing use of a U.S. Cellular tower west of the city to install equipment for the county system.

That should resolve the coverage issues, Radio Communications Co. officials said.

Under the plan, the county would continue to use the infrastructure put in place by Communications International, which built the existing system.