Astro (Motorola)

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ASTRO 25 is the next generation of ASTRO digital two-way radio communications by Motorola Solutions. Motorola first introduced digital two-way radio in the U.S. in 1991 under the name ASTRO Digital Solutions.[1]

With the completion of the APCO Project 25 standard, Motorola introduced the ASTRO 25 solution and migrated its ASTRO Digital Solutions customers to ASTRO 25. Project 25 (also known as P25) is a suite of standards for digital radio communications that is designed specifically for law enforcement, fire and medical services to communicate with each other during emergency situations.[2]

ASTRO 25 is now the most widely used P25 mission critical voice and data communication network in the world. It is designed to provide reliable and always available communication for public safety agencies.[3]

The Original ASTRO 25 format utilizes APCO Project 25 Phase I technology (FDMA). It is the most used format of the ASTRO 25 family of radio systems.

The ASTRO 25 Phase II system, which complies with the P25 Phase II standard, uses TDMA technology to deliver both voice and data messaging over a single wireless communications infrastructure. Because ASTRO 25 Phase II is a P25 TDMA system, it offers greater spectrum efficiency, lower equipment costs, advanced radio features and flexibility, and longer battery life.[4] The ASTRO 25 network also ensures encryption key assignment over the system's radio channels and enhanced network security tools.[5]

The ASTRO 25 digital radio system provides superior audio quality and advanced features which comply with the Federal Communications Commission's narrowbanding requirements.[6] ASTRO 25 currently operates in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, UHF and VHF bands for voice and data operation.[5]


ASTRO technology originated in police cars in 1930 when Motorola began selling car radio receivers to police departments and municipalities.[7] By 1991, ASTRO had grown to be the world's first narrowband digital radio system for public safety agencies.

The New Hampshire USA State Police were the first to test and use a conventional ASTRO Digital Solutions system. They began extended year-long testing of ASTRO portable radios, mobile radios, base stations, dispatch consoles, and a wide-area system in December 1992 for State Police Troop A, and completed a phased installation several years later.[8] This original ASTRO system was later converted to ASTRO 25.

Today, next generation ASTRO 25 is the leading digital radio system in the world for public safety that delivers real-time interoperable communications to support day-to-day, mutual aid and task force operations.[9]

ASTRO 25 enables federal, state, and local public safety agencies to achieve compatibility and communicate in emergency situations and widespread disasters, such as catastrophic Hurricane Katrina of August 2005,[10] the epic Superstorm Sandy of October 2012,[11] and the deadly Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013.[12]

As of 2014, ASTRO 25 is used in over 60 countries and more than three dozen U.S. states, from Alaska to Virginia, have deployed Motorola's statewide digital radio networks for their mission critical communications.[13]

Mission Critical System[edit]

ASTRO 25 is a P25 standards-based mission critical network that provides integrated voice and data network communications for emergency response and coordinated communications during and after an incident. The ASTRO 25 network, two-way radios and advanced applications work together to improve first responder safety and decision-making capabilities. These innovative technologies optimize emergency response and enhance situational awareness.[14]

The ASTRO 25 network and radios have proved their ruggedness, reliability, interoperability and ease of use in emergency situations throughout the world – such as the deadliest bushfires in Victoria, Australia's history in 2009; Superstorm Sandy, the most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season; and the devastating wildfires in southeastern Texas in 2013.[15]

System Components[edit]

The ASTRO 25 core is the hub for the communications network. It consists of P25 portable and mobile radios, dispatch consoles, data applications and RF conventional or trunked sites.[16] In addition to ASTRO 25, Motorola also builds a number of other P25 radio models, including the XTS/XTL™ family of radios and the recently released series of APX™ radios, designed for high durability and high reliability for first responders.[17] With the ASTRO 25 core, organizations can deploy Motorola MCC 7500 and MCC 7100 IP Dispatch Consoles and have secure end-to-end encryption for all the radio traffic between operators and users in the field.

In June 2013, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (METRO) announced it would implement an ASTRO 25 mission-critical Phase 2 700 MHz digital radio system to expand P25 TDMA interoperability throughout Clark County and Southern Nevada. In addition to the ASTRO 25 backbone, the communications system will also include Motorola APX™ mobile and portable radios, upgraded dispatch equipment and helicopter radios.[18]

ISSI: Connecting Multiple P25 Systems[edit]

In 2008 Motorola announced the first deployment of Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) gateways between live Project 25 public safety networks.[19] The ISSI standard is a non-proprietary interface that allows two or more P25-compliant trunked systems to be connected—even if they are from different vendors or operating in different frequency bands. It vastly extends the interoperability of radio systems without the need to fund super-large networks or install large, complex gateways.[20]

Motorola installed an ISSI prototype in Arizona, USA to demonstrate the ability to provide interoperability among existing communications systems. It was the culmination of months of multi-agency collaboration.[19] According to former Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano, "The Motorola ISSI gateway trial is an excellent example of driving innovation, which will enable our state with agency interoperability to best protect our residents and visitors."[19]

In 2010, Motorola tested the ISSI equipment with five other emergency communications equipment manufacturers to demonstrate the effectiveness of P25 ISSI#ISSI Interoperability Testing for Voice Operations in Trunked Systems interoperability. The tests conducted on the ASTRO 25 system with the ISSI gateway confirmed that it was an easy and effective way to connect P25 systems and implement digital connectivity for emergency communications.[21]

TDMA: Doubling Voice Capacity for Public Safety[edit]

In 2011, Motorola deployed ASTRO 25 systems with P25 Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) trunking to double the voice capacity of Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) technology for more efficient use of radio spectrum, providing users with improved system access for mission-critical communications.[22]

The P25 Phase 2 products were the first in the industry.[23] By October 2013, over 30 customers had contracted for this market-leading P25 TDMA technology from Motorola.[24] By January 2014, 74 customers had been shipped 106 zones licensed for TDMA.

With the City of Apopka, Florida, Motorola Solutions implemented the world's first deployment and acceptance of a dual mode ASTRO 25 system with P25 TDMA trunking for Apopka police, fire and emergency management personnel and public works agencies.[24] The system gives Apopka enhanced coverage and interoperability with surrounding agencies using 700 and 800 MHz frequencies, without the need for adding frequency bands, antenna sites or stations.[25]

Maintaining Information Assurance[edit]

ASTRO 25 solutions are designed for information assurance, with state-of-the-art features that enable organizations to enhance their security posture by preventing, detecting and responding to external and internal risks.[26]

On January 19, 1996, Motorola was the first U.S. company to be granted FIPS 140-1 validation for its ASTRO subscriber encryption module, having been granted certificate number 2.[27]

ASTRO 25 was the first to support federal grade security with FIPS 140-1 and CJIS compliant integrated data and comply with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) requirements for Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS); Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation (DiaCAP); Defense Information Systems Agency (DiSa); Department of Defense Information Technology Security Certification and Accreditation Process (DitSCAP); Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS); Federal Information Security Mandate Act (FiSMa); National Institute of Standards and Technology (NiSt) and NiSt-FIPS800 to identify security risks and vulnerabilities required by most Federal Agencies for themselves and their subcontractors.[26][28]

In 2011, Motorola expanded its wireless broadband portfolio to government and military markets with FIPS 140-2 Validation IPS 140-2. This enabled DOD and civilian government agencies to deploy secure wireless broadband networks by providing testing validation to help ensure the product successfully meets requirements for data encryption, role-based administrator access and physical security against tampering.[29]

The Most Widely Used P25 System in the World[edit]

ASTRO 25 systems have been deployed in public safety and other industries throughout the world.

In June 1994, Motorola was awarded the contract to build the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) and in November 2002 finished installing and upgrading the complete statewide ASTRO 25 system with 800 MHz digital radio service.[30] Today the MPSCS is the largest public safety communications system in North America.[31]

In 2004, Motorola was contracted to build and operate an ASTRO 25 digital wireless network to provide communications and emergency services for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.[5]

In 2005, Motorola delivered vital communications equipment and support to first responders working before and after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. More than 2,500 pieces of emergency communication equipment (portable radios, fully charged batteries, chargers) and other mission-critical communication equipment were deployed to aid in disaster recovery efforts.[10]

In 2007, Champaign County, Illinois transitioned to the ASTRO 25 digital radio system which functions as a total public safety system across 1000 square miles. The ASTRO 25 system provides interoperable communications among 1800 users from 30 different agencies, including police, fire, sheriff, emergency medical services and public works.[32]

In 2009, as the Black Saturday bushfires consumed much of Victoria, Australia, Motorola helped ensure their two Government Emergency Service Networks—Mobile Data Network (MDN) and Metropolitan Mobile Radio (MMR), which are based on the ASTRO P25 standard—ran efficiently to support firefighters as they battled the worst fires in state history.[33][34]

In 2012, ComEd became the first United States utility to use the 900 MHz ASTRO 25 digital trunked radio system to provide better coverage, reliability and audio quality for its service territory of northern Illinois. This included mobile and portable radios for field workers, base stations, and voice, integrated data and GPS location capabilities.[35]

In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy ravaged a record-breaking 1100 miles of coastline along the U.S. Atlantic coastline. Nearly 500 public safety agencies throughout the country responded. Leveraging the ASTRO 25 network and Motorola APX radios, these first responders were able to effectively communicate and interoperate together – despite different radios, frequencies and systems – to coordinate a unified response, even with the destruction of four police departments and power outages throughout 90 percent of the county.[36]

In April 2013, deadly bombings occurred at the Boston Marathon. Motorola Solutions played a critical role in helping first responders in the bombings and hunt to apprehend the suspect. The company provided more than 200 public safety radios and helped set up MotoBridge, an interoperable communications gateway that enabled local agencies to communicate on different radio systems with federal and state agencies.[12]

In July 2013, the Boys Scouts of America leveraged the statewide ASTRO 25 system in West Virginia to keep over 7,000 public safety and support staff connected at their quadrennial National Jamboree hosting over 40,000 scouts and up to 10,000 visitors a day at the 10,600-acre Summit Bechtel Reserve.[37]

In August 2013, the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) selected Motorola Solutions to develop an ASTRO 25 TDMA 700 MHz and UHF digital radio system to provide coverage throughout the 4,000-square-mile area. It will provide mission-critical communications for the region's more than 34,000 law enforcement, fire service and health service professionals and over 80 public safety agencies.[9]

By September 30, 2013, ASTRO 25 systems were contracted to be built and deployed for these U.S. customers: Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority; the cities of Arlington, Texas, Indianapolis, Ind., Phoenix, Ariz., Portland, Ore., and Midland, Mich.; Fulton County in Georgia; Prince George's County in Maryland; Franklin County in Ohio; El Paso County in Texas; state of Maryland; and Colorado / Pikes Peak Regional Communication Network.[38]

During the same timeframe, ASTRO 25 systems were contracted to be built and deployed for these international customers: Queensland, Australia, government; Brazilian Army; city of Montreal and Quebec Government in Canada; Guangdong Province Police, Chengdu Metro, Dalian Metro, Shanxi Police and Wuxi Metro Police in China; Delhi Metro in India; and Seoul Metro in Korea.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Motorola Solutions
  2. ^ Project 25 Archived March 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Mission Critical Radio. McIntosh Communications, Inc. March 2010. 
  4. ^ "TDMA Technology: Bringing Increased Capacity and Functionality to Professional Digital Two-Way Radio" (PDF). Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Motorola releases Project-25 version of Astro". Urgent Communications. April 1, 2004. 
  6. ^ "Public Safety: Statewide Radio System (SRS)". Nebraska Information Technology Commission. 
  7. ^ "Motorola Solutions Inc. Celebrates Its 85th Anniversary". September 25, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  8. ^ "Installation of New Hampshire Statewide Motorola Communications System Nearing Completion". March 7, 2002. 
  9. ^ a b "LA-RICS Selects Motorola Solutions to Develop Interoperable Public Safety Radio System for the Los Angeles County Region". August 20, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  10. ^ a b "Motorola Announces Aid to Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts". August 31, 2005. 
  11. ^ "Mission Critical Communications Designed to a Tougher Standard" (PDF). 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Motorola Solutions key in Boston marathon hunt". April 25, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Statewide Radio System Elevates Communications for Nebraska's Agencies, Big and Small". Nebraska Sheriff's Association Journal. 2013. 
  14. ^ "Motorola Now Shipping APX Multi-band Mobile Radios and Expanding Award-Winning APX Portable Radio Portfolio" (PDF). December 17, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "In Magnolia, TX ASTRO® 25 Network and Radios Get a Baptism By Wildfire" (PDF). 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-02. 
  16. ^ "ASTRO 25 Infrastructure, SR7.13" (PDF). March 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-05. 
  17. ^ "Motorola Now Shipping APX Multi-band Two-Way Radios Offering Interoperability and Enhanced Solutions Critical to First Responders". FireRescue1. September 15, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Las Vegas Inks Contract with Motorola Solutions for Long-Anticipated Interoperable Police Communications Network". June 12, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  19. ^ a b c "Industry First: State of Arizona Trials Motorola's ISSI Gateways on Project 25 Network". December 18, 2008. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. 
  20. ^ Noordhof, Dr. Jan (April 11, 2013). "Why You Should Look into P25's ISSI and CSSI". Urgent Communications. 
  21. ^ "Motorola and Five Leading Emergency Communications Equipment Manufacturers Demonstrate Project 25 ISSI Interoperability". March 10, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Motorola Solutions Begins Shipping ASTRO 25 Systems with Project 25 TDMA Trunking". August 8, 2011. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  23. ^ Wendelken, Sandra (August 8, 2011). "Motorola Ships First P25 Phase 2 Equipment". RadioSource Media Group. 
  24. ^ a b "Motorola Solutions Reports Second-Quarter 2012 Financial Results". July 25, 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  25. ^ "Apopka Doubles Radio Capacity, Gains Secure Communications with Central Florida First Responders". June 25, 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  26. ^ a b "Information Assurance for ASTRO® 25 Networks" (PDF). August 2011. 
  27. ^ "Validated FIPS 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 Cryptographic Modules 1995-1997". Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  28. ^ "ASTRO 25 Voice and Data Products". Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  29. ^ "Motorola Solutions Expands Wireless Broadband Portfolio to Government and Military Markets with FIPS 140-2 Validation". April 12, 2011. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  30. ^ "Michigan State Police Communications History". Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  31. ^ About MCPCS
  32. ^ "Digital Trunked System Knocks Down the Largest Fire in a Decade" (PDF). 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-02. 
  33. ^ "Mobile Data Network (MDN) Update" (PDF). ESTA Update. September 3, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  34. ^ Metropolitan Mobile Radio
  35. ^ "Motorola Announces First 900 MHz P25 Utility Contract". March 19, 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  36. ^ "Interoperability Helped New Jersey Weather Superstorm Sandy". Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  37. ^ "Motorola Solutions Helps Keep Public Safety and Support Staff Connected at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree". July 22, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  38. ^ a b "Motorola Solutions Reports Third-Quarter 2013 Financial Results". October 23, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02.