The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center Communications Technologies Center of Excellence (COE) in Camden, N.J., has organized an APCO P25 radio network pilot in conjunction with the Cape May County, N.J., prosecutors’ office. The P25 communications network pilot tests off-the-shelf and open-standards technologies to evaluate and demonstrate network-migration strategies, said Rick Mulvihill, the director of the COE.

The COE was approached by the Cape May County prosecutor about a potential pilot program in their district in order to evaluate P25 networks. The center developed a public-private partnership with the county and leading market vendors, because “P25 is the de facto technology that homeland security and the DOJ want state and local governments to deploy,” Mulvihill said. The result is a multi-vendor, multi-site, trunked network that is enabled by an IP-based architecture.

The center used Cisco’s integrated-services router, which runs Etherstack’s LMR network controller software. It then added repeaters from Kenwood and Tait and prototype repeaters from a third manufacturer, said Ed Vea, the COE’s program manager. Kenwood’s TKR-8400P, Tait’s TB8100 and the prototype repeaters are networked together by Etherstack’s all-IP core network soft-switch, he said. The softswitch runs on the router, thereby offering a site-switch interface that serves as the ISSI and CSSI gateway. All components are connected over the county’s IP network, Vea said.

Vea added that putting vendors’ equipment through real-world scenarios can demonstrate the functionality of a P25 communications network while at the same time supporting a nascent marketplace.

“The COE wants more competition, so that the P25 market benefits from economies of scale,” he said. “So we’d like to see interchangeable multi-vendor environments on both the infrastructure and on the mobile/portable side.”

The pilot eventually will include operations on all public-safety bands to demonstrate higher levels of interoperability, including cross-band operation and backward compatibility with analog subscriber units. It also will leverage IP, support both ISSI and CSSI gateways and continue to test vendors’ P25 systems on the mobile as well as infrastructure side, Mulvihill noted.