Prior to the completion of the ALE system we used the 10 channel STACOM system on a Motorola MICOM radio (non-ALE) as our primary in-house emergency radio linkage. It provided links between the State OES facilities, although there were others (such as NASA and USGS) on the system. We monitored one key channel in the NON-ALE mode on STACOM and continued to use that until the XF ALE system was implemented.
STACOM is the title California OES gave to a system known as SECURE (State Emergency Capability Using Radio Effectively.) It covers 2-8 MHz HF-SSB radio frequencies allocated only to State CD/ES agencies and provides OES with 10 channels. The acronym "STACOM" was used to avoid the connotation of secure (encrypted) communications.
When the Motorola radio ALE network was first setup the master radio in Sacramento sounded 10 channels to each radio on the network. Later we reduced sounding to 5 of 10 channels as others were so close in frequency it was not necessary. In addition, the sounding was reduced to a select group of radios in concentric circle locations (from Sacramento) in order to reduce the number of soundings. Those locations were placed 150-200 miles from the state capital, where the distance to each end of the state is 500 miles in a north and south direction. These changes reduced channel interference from the ALE bursts when sounding: ...a raspy whirring burrrrrrr...that covers voice communications when in use at the same time by a non-ALE user.
The STACOM channel we were using for non-ALE monitoring, while assigned to California, was also in use by others for ALE sounding. We were unable to identify from where or by whom those bursts originated without having a compatible unit to the other system. Then, at times there were South or Central American voices as well as an overseas broadcast station that broke through the squelch. That, and our own ALE sounding bursts, made single channel monitoring not feasible because the loud ALE bursts overrode the squelch. While operators in a CommCenter could put up with that, executives and warning controllers would not. (The lack of noise at the console is a MAJOR benefit of a properly designed and installed ALE system. When the unit rings you answer the phone. Otherwise, no noise, no tuning, no bursts, no broken squelch, just restful quiet.)