LA-RICS hopes P25 network will be ready in 2023, executive director says
Efforts to deploy the P25 network for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) are continuing, with the land-mobile-radio (LMR) project is about three years behind schedule after being delayed further by a confluence of events last year, according to LA-RICS Executive Director Scott Edson.
LA-RICS had contracted with Motorola Solutions to finish the narrowband LMR system last year, but only 46 of the 60 sites for the network are done, Edson said. Now, the target date for Motorola Solutions to complete the P25 system and for LA-RICS to accept the new LMR network has been pushed to 2023, he said.
“We were supposed to be done by now, but fires, floods, the pandemic, resources, supply-chain issues and some preventable delays have further delayed the program,” Edson said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.
Edson declined to elaborate on the “preventable delays” he referenced.
Once a cell site is optimized and tested, LA-RICS member agencies are able to leverage the coverage provided by the 80% of the P25 network that is done, but they will not be able to completely switch to the regional LMR network—and retire their respective existing radio systems—until Motorola Solutions has finished all 60 sites, Edson said.
Deploying P25 has proven to be challenging for LA-RICS, which has been pursuing the goal for more than a decade. After LA-RICS first awarded a $600 million both the LMR and LTE networks to Raytheon in a bidding process initiated in 2010, a legal technicality uncovered in 2011 resulted in both systems being procured separately.
When the LMR project was rebid, Motorola Solutions was select and signed a contract with LA-RICS for the LMR system in August 2013. Motorola Solutions subsequently also was chosen to build the LTE network, signing a contract to deploy the LA-RICS broadband wireless in March 2014.
The scope of both the P25 and LTE networks for LA-RICS were reduced significantly in 2015—largely by redesign on the LTE side in the spring of that year, in part because of claims of RF dangers from the local firefighters’ union. The 232-site LTE plan was pared to 77 sites and eventually 76 sites. In 2018, the 76 sites were transferred to AT&T for FirstNet, and LA-RICS later built another 26 LTE sites that were transferred to AT&T for the FirstNet initiative.
Meanwhile, the LA-RICS P25 project was reduced from more than 80 sites to 60 sites, in part because the city of Los Angeles opted to pull out of the regional initiative in November 2015.