Troopers statewide will go from traditional radio frequencies to digital by Jan. 1, a move estimated to cost about $41 million.
People using the old system will not be able to pick up chatter on the digital system. Digital scanners using the new protocol will be needed to hear State Patrol transmissions, which will not be encrypted, according to a news release.
The FCC’s rule change was intended to make more frequencies available for licensing, meaning the State Patrol will have to purchase mobile and portable radios for every trooper and replace equipment in dispatch centers and mountaintop relay sites.
The switch first was made for troopers in Yakima, according to the news release, with the hope of working out any bugs before the statewide deadline.
“We’ve tested extensively, and we certainly believe we’re ready,” said Bob Schwent, commander of the Patrol’s Electronic Services Division, in the release. “Now it’s time to flip the switch and see what happens with real life use.”
The older system will be left in place temporarily, allowing for dispatchers and troopers to switch back if necessary.