Learn more about STARS which provides multi-channel trunked digital voice and data wireless communications for 21 state agencies.

What kind of radio system is STARS?

STARS includes a VHF Project 25 digital trunked Integrated Voice and Data (IV&D) radio network.

What is APCO P25?

Project 25 (P25) is the standard for interoperable digital two-way wireless communications products and systems. Developed under state, local, and federal government guidance and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) governance, P25 is gaining worldwide acceptance for public safety, security, public service, and commercial applications.

What is the difference between ASTRO 25 and APCO P25?

ASTRO 25 is a Motorola trade name for their system offering that operates using the TIA/EIA 102 standards and mirrors APCO P25 with similar functionality.

What does the term “trunked” mean?

Trunking permits a large number of users to share a relatively small number of communication paths – or trunks.

How is STARS different from conventional radio systems?

Conventional radio systems have dedicated radio channels that are assigned to provide radio coverage. Radio users have to manually switch radio channels to pick the one channel providing radio coverage in their service area. Then the dispatcher would have to select the transmitter site closest to the radio user to communicate. This forces a substantial number of public safety communications to use a single channel which causes substantial congestion.

Unlike the conventional radio system, STARS users who are performing the same type of work and needing to communicate with each other are assigned to a talk group. STARS gives radio users the ability to switch talk groups on their radios, enabling users to talk with users in a different work group. There are a sufficient number of talkgroups available which will eliminate having to wait for available channels.

What if a user travels out of range of a site?

The user’s radio will search for another STARS radio site and automatically log the radio onto the new site to allow the user to place and receive calls. If the user travels completely out of STARS radio coverage, the user’s radio will indicate that it is out of range visually and emit a tone if the user attempts to place a call.

Is there a backup if a failure occurs in the computer controlled radio system?

STARS is configured with two interconnected zones. The STARS Zone Master sites are designed with multiple levels of redundancy in the event of a computer failure.

Will encrypted radios operate on STARS?


Will STARS replace SIRS as the primary connection between the state and localities?

No. The State Interdepartmental Radio System (SIRS) is a Low Band VHF frequency used for direct inter-agency communications without the need for an infrastructure. STARS complements SIRS.

Is there a training facility for STARS agencies?

Yes. The training facility is located at the Virginia State Police Headquarters and is only available for UARC agencies who wish to conduct STARS Training. Agencies should contact First Sergeant Berry at to reserve the facility and contact Mr. William DeCoste at to set up the equipment.

The Phase 5 project commenced in 2021 and expected to last 3 years. It will include classroom train-the-trainer and mandatory online training for all users.

NOTE: Virginia State Police employees cannot give legal advice, nor interpret the law for members of the public.  Information within this website is provided for general guidance purposes only and may not apply to all factual situations.  Persons needing legal advice may contact Virginia Lawyer Referral Service at (800) 552-7977 to be referred to a private attorney for a 30-minute consultation for a pre-paid fee of $35.00.