Emergency Radios Go Digital in Winnebago County - WBAY

Emergency Radios Go Digital in Winnebago County

Oshkosh -

A new emergency communications radio system is now being used in Winnebago County.

The upgrade to digital started with the sheriff's department this week.

For deputies the relay of information is noticeably better, after the distribution of portable radios as the county begins using a new 800 megahertz digital system that was recently installed to re-place an aging analog one.

Lt. Jesse Jensen said, "From day to day use it's going to be a lot clearer transmissions. There's not going to be any static in the background. There's a lot better coverage, both in building and outside."

The change comes after county supervisors agreed to spend 10.5 million dollars for the upgrade- to meet a federal mandate.

The initial purchase includes 14 hundred portable radios which will equip law enforcement, fire, and first responders.

"We're going from having a lot of channels. We had about 16 channels on our other radio and it's being paired down to about 8 channels, 8 frequencies, just using them more efficiently," said Jensen. 

The radios have been distributed to every municipality in the county, but so far only the sheriff's department frequency is being used so any initial kinks can be worked out.

Jensen added, "We actually put the county frequency over yesterday <Monday>. We're implementing in phases, so we can go thru and make sure everything is working properly and then we'll bring the other agencies on, as they're ready to go."

The county expects to transformation to be complete by late summer.

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