Marion County Commissioners approved the purchase of the $12.5 million 800 megahertz system in July of 2005. An estimated $5.7 million of county coffers paid for the system's infrastructure, and public safety agencies shared the remaining cost of the radios.
The Marion County Sheriff's Office and Marion County Fire Rescue started using the new system in February of 2007, six weeks ahead of schedule.
This technology offers expanded coverage, 20 frequencies, improved reception and increased security whereas the previous VHF/UHF system used outdated technology, offered only one frequency and hit dead-spots throughout the county.
The 800 megahertz system also offers what's called "interoperability." This enables crews from local, state and federal agencies to simultaneously communicate using one shared system.
This is especially important during large-scale disasters such as a hurricane when various public safety agencies need to coordinate response efforts along with road and debris removal crews, strike teams and utility workers.