The NSW government will allocate $63 million over the next year to design a single state-wide radio network to replace 70 emergency services communications networks currently in operation.
Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet today said a single network for all of the state's police, emergency and essential services agencies would eliminate the inefficiencies that come from operating dozens of separate and overlapping networks.
It will allow the state to slim 1972 voice radio sites to just 732.
Perrottet claimed the new single network would almost triple the geographical reach of hand-held radio coverage for the State Emergency Service alone.
The government will first undertake a $9.2 million pilot in north-western NSW to integrate ten existing agency networks, which will run until January next year.
The pilot is set to deliver a 3314km2 increase in coverage for the local SES, Fire and Rescue and Rural Fire Service agencies, it said.
The NSW Telco Authority will lead the network design in partnership with relevant agencies and private sector providers. The government said it expected the authority would deliver the design blueprint for approval next year.
A decision on whether to proceed with construction of the single network will be made after this document has been submitted, the government said.
"Should the government confirm the start of construction, the work will be undertaken in a staged approach. This will ensure that implementation of the program can be adapted to meet any developments in technology and agencies’ requirements."
The state government first detailed its plans to merge NSW's many emergency services networks late last year.
Its ten-year operational plan revealed the government would consider selling off surplus capacity once the consolidation efforts had been completed.
The strategy also outlined the government's intention to move away from its traditional radio-based networks and to a broadband-based voice and data platform, initially in metropolitan areas, once the single network had been rolled out.