Emergency services in Orange are upgrading their communications system following approval for a bid waiver from the Board of Selectmen on June 11. The use of old copper lines to carry the police department’s radio signals to transmission towers will be discontinued in favor of a wireless microwave communications system.
The new system will cost just under the pre-approved bond amount of $125,000. According to Orange Chief of Police Robert Gagne the new system will pay for itself in just over 8 years.
“We budget $15,000 a year for the copper lines we are using now,” Gagne said. Those dedicated lines are rented from AT&T.
The copper lines themselves are prone to weather conditions. Water leakage can impact signal strength and call quality. The microwave system is a secure wireless design that will not be impacted by inclement weather.
Furthermore, Gagne said the microwave system is less prone to damage and easier to reboot and repair if needed. He noted a pole fire across from the police station that once took out the department’s ability to communicate easily. Officers enacted a temporary solution by parking a squad car in the middle of town to act as a signal relay to keep communications open.
The microwave system will be installed by Utility Communications of Hamden, who the department selected for their familiarity with surrounding communities’ systems. Utility Communications has installed similar systems in Hamden, New Haven, West Haven and other communities.
The fact that so many surrounding towns also use the system, opens up opportunity for better inter-connectivity with those police departments according to Gagne. That is on top of sharing access to the new microwave system with the fire department and schools.