Site Wide Public Address Systems


World's Largest Site-Wide Radio Public Address / Mass Notification System is now protecting HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

Picture shows HMS Victory with a digital radio transceiver and loudspeakers covering part of the Heritage Parade Ground at Portsmouth Naval base

The Royal Navy’s facilities management company, Fleet Support Ltd and Commercial Sound specialists Sound Advice P. A. Installations Ltd., announces completion of the largest digital wireless public address system in the world. The Fareham based company were commissioned to provide an audio/visual site-wide personnel alerting system for HMNB Portsmouth and the Heritage Museum areas.

After extensive investigation into various signal distribution methods, data, fibre etc., a secure wireless system proved to be the most economical solution. The system is used throughout the world in US Military bases, government buildings and high profile tourist attractions. However, this is the first of its type in the UK.

From its three computer controlled base stations, it provides full audio coverage over the 333 acre site via 255 digital radio transceivers and 570 loudspeakers.   Both digital pre-recorded messages and live speech can be transmitted to selected single radio units, multiple units, (zones), or throughout the whole site.

A traditional Public Address, (PA) system, involves cabling between amplifiers and loudspeakers inside and outside of buildings. The complex layout of the dockyard buildings; cobbled streets, rail tracks, dry docks and buildings of historical importance, (see photo), presented significant problems for cable installation and unacceptable levels of disruption.

Initial budgetary costs of over £1,000,000 for cabling infrastructure alone made the conventional solution financially prohibitive. The wireless system proved to be dramatically more economical and less disruptive. The reduction in hardware costs, planning time and an installation period of only 15 weeks ensured that the project was completed at a fraction of the cost of a conventional system.

The growing terrorism threat and security issues were at the forefront of the system design.  Sound Advice's unique solution resolves the inherent problems of conventional cabled systems being reliant on the integrity of the cable and its connections.  Under circumstances that may compromise a conventional system, the radio signal will seek another active unit and continue to broadcast.

Along with the visitors to the Historic Dockyard, there can be thousands of Military and Civilian staff in the Naval Base at any one time. The new system is designed to provide immediate site wide information for any major incidents and be used in conjunction with other security tools such as CCTV and perimeter security.

The aim is to eventually integrate all of the sites internal PA and signal reporting via this system.


Linking remote buildings by radio is not a new concept, but a £60 scanner brought from any high street electrical component store could jam or interfere with the signals. This vulnerability has resulted in radio being used only as a back-up to conventional cabled systems.

The Sound Advice system works using digital radio technology designed by the military for battlefield communications and is totally secure. It transmits using a spread-spectrum, frequency-hopping signal in the 2.4 GHz band, that changes randomly up to 85 times a second and is impossible to jam.

It is the only system to have passed the Joint Chiefs of Staff Anti Terrorism/Force Protection criteria in the US and is the preferred system for US military bases worldwide.

Other Innovations at HMNB Portsmouth

1 st Navy dock 1194

World’s first dry dock 1495

In 1800 it was the world’s largest industrial complex

1802 first floating dam

1829 worlds first steam ship

1913 first oil fired battleship

2004, launch of the worlds largest private sailing yacht

2004 world’s largest radio PA system

HM Naval Base Portsmouth is the first site in the UK to benefit from the latest digital radio technology and has installed the world’s largest single radio PA system.

For more details, and jpeg’s of the photos, please contact Sound Advice Ltd on 01329-221791

The photographs are copyright Sound Advice but may be used in connection with this article.


© Sound Advice Ltd, 2013
Site by Wizbit