VA Plans To Build Nationwide High-Frequency Radio Network To Communicate During Emergencies

Bob Brewin | | October 16, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to build a nationwide high-frequency radio network to connect its medical facilities in case of an emergency that knocks out other forms of communications -- applying century-old technology to current needs.  VA said in a contracting notice Tuesday it intends to award a five-year, fixed-price indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for the fully functional "turnkey" Emergency High Frequency Radio Network.  VA plans to issue a formal request for proposals by Oct. 31.

The network will include an undefined number of high-powered “backbone” stations equipped with 200-watt transmitters designed to receive and automatically relay communications from 125-watt stations located at approximately 200 Veterans Health Administration facilities, VA said.  The network would provide emergency two-way radio communication and links to national wired, cellular and IP telephone networks enabling radio-to-telephone communications, according to the agency.

High-frequency radios operate in the three-to-30-MHz bandwidth and can transmit signals for hundreds or thousands of miles as the signals are refracted off the ionosphere. Changes in ionspheric conditions require HF radios to be periodically retuned, done automatically with a technology known as Automatic Link Establishment built into the radios. VA has specified ALE radios for its HF network...