Archive for Thursday, March 9, 2006

County to hire consultant for radio work

March 9, 2006

Leavenworth County will use the same consulting firm as the state of Kansas as it works to "reband" public safety radios and related equipment now in use throughout the county.

County commissioners on Monday gave unanimous approval to enter into a contract with RCC Consultants Inc. for its services related to the changeover. Any fees paid to the company related to the rebanding would be reimbursed to the county by Sprint/Nextel, which is spearheading the nationwide effort for the Federal Communications Commission.

Chuck Magaha, director of the Office of Emergency Management, pressed commissioners to sign off on the use of a consultant to help the county in what he described as a complex effort that must be completed by a Nov. 6 deadline. Magaha appeared before commissioners with Sheriff Dave Zoellner and Undersheriff Ron Cranor.

"I can't do it. These two gentlemen here can't do it. : We need to have someone that knows how the system's going to work," Magaha said.

The FCC is requiring the reconfiguring, or rebanding, of the 800 megahertz spectrum to cut down on the interference caused by cellular telephone traffic on emergency communications radios nationwide. The process, officials say, will physically separate commercial wireless carrier traffic from public safety operations within the 800 megahertz band.

To accomplish the task, the radio frequencies used by many city, county and state agencies will be replaced with new frequencies located higher in the 800 megahertz band.

The Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office owns six FCC licenses to broadcast on frequencies now in the lower portion of the 800 megahertz band. Those licenses, in turn, are used by the cities of Basehor, Lansing, Tonganoxie, the Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management. All of the equipment that operates on those lower bands will have to be reprogrammed.

"Basically what they're telling us is that Nextel will replace or reconfigure : one for one," Magaha told commissioners. "They're not going to give us a penny more, but they're supposedly not going to give us a penny less for what it takes to do this rebanding process."

Reimbursable costs related to the rebanding are reprogramming of radios and equipment, retuning of towers, legal fees, consulting fees related and administrative costs.

The state already has awarded a contract to RCC Consultants, of Woodbridge, N.J., to provide consulting and engineering services for its rebanding project. The state, in turn, offered Kansas counties the option of using RCC.

The commission's blessing for the contract was necessary because RCC does not want to wait for reimbursement by Sprint/Nextel.

"The consultant wants their money up-front," Magaha told commissioners.

Magaha told commissioners he did not have a contract with RCC ready for their perusal, and he said afterward he didn't have a ballpark figure for the fee.

Separately, Zoellner told commissioners he already had signed a contract for legal services related to the rebanding.

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