Many people believe Project 25 is a type of radio when in reality, it is much more than that. Project 25 (P25) portable two-way radios are radios that fit the standard for North American digital radio communications for federal, state, and local public safety organizations. These radios are products regulated by the Association of Public Communications Officials International (APCO), the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors (NASTD), selected Federal Agencies, the National Communications System (NCS), and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).

Project 25 itself is a digital radio standard that has been specified, in a partnership with the public safety community, to meet the needs of the public safety community, such as interoperability. A P25 radio is any radio that conforms to the P25 standard in the way it functions. This means they can communicate using analog mode with legacy radios and in either digital or analog mode with other P25 radios. This is applicable to land mobile radios (LMR) equipment authorized or licensed in the United States.

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P25 radios have four main objectives they must abide by. First, they ensure competition in system life cycle procurements through Open System Architecture. Second, P25 radios allow effective, efficient and reliable intra-agency and interagency communications. Third, project 25 portable radios provide enhanced functionality and capabilities with a focus on public safety needs. Finally, project 25 improves radio spectrum efficiency.

The suite of standards for a Project 25 radio specifies eight open interfaces for LMR systems. This includes Common Air Interface (CAI), Subscriber Data Peripheral Interface, Fixed Station Interface, Console Subsystem Interface, Network Management Interface, Data Network Interface, Telephone Interconnect Interface, Inter RF Subsystem Interface. Emergency personnel are able to choose from each of these interfaces so they get the radio specific to their needs.

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