Every year, technology professionals connect, educate and learn about the latest trends at Penton’s International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE). This great event, originally founded in 1977 as the “National Business Radio Dealer Conference,” has become one of the largest industry shows for two-way radio manufacturers. Last year, the Expo welcomed over 350 vendors and more than 7,000 tech buyers. Approximately 75 countries outside the U.S. were represented at the convention, making IWCE truly a global affair.
Even after years of successful deployments, IDAS MultiTrunk remains a mystery for much of the LMR community. This lack of exposure is unfortunate because a properly deployed NXDN Type-D system is a reliable, cost effective, and bandwidth efficient straightforward solution. While P25 has all the hype these days, its implementation is cost prohibitive for many smaller public safety or commercial agencies. These entities typically require modest coverage area, yet more talk paths than a conventional system can offer, and the level of reliability that public safety demands. This mid-level solution is where MultiTrunk really shines.
Cruise vacations are a popular choice for families looking to avoid the high price of fuel for long-distance road trips. These types of vacations offer a complete package aboard a floating vacation paradise – ranging from family fun events for parents and kids, to individual activities so that each member of the family gets the most out the time spent on the boat.
To stay in contact during individual activities aboard a massive cruise vessel, many cruise-goers opt to purchase FRS radios (or similar devices) to communicate with each other. The unfortunate problem is that other families also buy their own communication devices; the result is an overcrowded channel lineup with very little quality of coverage. The frequencies used in FRS radios are not intended for good penetrating coverage aboard a floating metal vessel, thus frustrating parents and kids to the point of no use. If the cruise ship has a cell site aboard, the charges for use are normally very high per minute and not cost-effective.
Among the most desired features that universities require of the two-way radio systems is GPS capability. GPS (or Global Positioning System) provides university staff – such as Security patrols – real-time, location-sensitive information and coverage throughout the campus. Either in-vehicle, on foot, or even on bicycles, university dispatch centers can track patrols with GPS capable devices. Dispatch can see who the closest officer is to an incident and dispatch that officer immediately, then notify others to proceed to the location for backup. Universities view GPS on two-way radios as a major benefit to protecting students, staff, and facilities on the campus.
A two-way radio system using a repeater may have great coverage except in areas, such as parking garages and basements of buildings, whose environmental factors create stubborn “dead” spots. In these locations, the repeater signal reaches the radio, but the handheld cannot reach back to the repeater. The traditional solution to this problem is to add Bi-Directional Amplifier and Distributed Antenna System within the building. Although this is a proven approach to get signals into problem areas, it can be complicated and costly. The complication comes from ensuring the signal is not overlapping the original in a manner that interferes with itself. The costliness is due to the need of running antenna coaxial cable from the amplifiers to the trouble zone, which may require many feet of cable and possible drilling through walls.
When there’s a need to extend the coverage of handheld two-way radios, the first option is usually a repeater. However, a repeater isn’t the full answer. A repeater will typically put out much more power and have a better antenna system than the portable radios with which it is communicating. This presents an unbalanced system where the transmit power of the repeater reaches much further than the transmit power of the handhelds.
Couldn’t this be resolved by turning the power of the repeater down to match the handheld? The reality is that often times mobile radios installed in vehicles and handheld radios are in use on the system. Mobile radios typically have greater transmit power than handhelds. Reducing the repeater power output to match the lowest powered device – the handheld – significantly constrains the system coverage, making the usable radius of the system much less than what it could be.
Icom recently attended an exciting conference that gathered top decision makers in K-12 school security. The overarching message from all of the attendees and speakers is the importance of relationship and communication with students, service and solutions providers. Communications technology plays a significant role in enhancing the ability to mitigate and quickly communicate root causes for incidences that unfortunately occur in our schools today. Instantly connecting all staff and security ensures that situation awareness is shared throughout the school and even the district. Communication response time confirms that an incident is managed at the lowest level of escalation.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are very stable and reliable sources of power for two-way radios, laptops and many other devices. Lithium-ion batteries are widely used because they have a high energy density, resulting in a much lighter weight than other rechargeable batteries. Li-ion have other advantages too. They hold their charge well, losing about 5% of their charge per month as compared to ~20% for nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Li-ion batteries have no “memory effect,” which means recharging them before they are completely discharged is not an issue. Li-ion batteries can handle many recharges before the end of their useful life.
Pilot-controller radio communications is critical to the ATC (Air Traffic Control) system. Clear communications is key. Pilots must confirm each radio communication using the appropriate aircraft call signs. The controller must understand what the pilot wants done before carrying out control duties. Likewise, pilots must understand and acknowledge the controller’s instructions. Keep communications brief and do not use ATC slang. Review the pilot/controller glossary that is used in the ATC Controller’s handbook.
FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access) and TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) technologies are used in P25 and in business and industrial digital radios (P25 Phase I & NXDN™ for FDMA; P25 Phase II & DMR for TDMA).
The basic difference between FDMA and TDMA is the definition of a channel and how it is used.
In FDMA, a particular bandwidth (e.g. 6.25 kHz) at a particular frequency (e.g. 150.000 MHz) is used to define a channel. This is the way channels have been allocated in analog land mobile radios (LMR) for decades. All information is contained in the channel – compressed to the smallest frequency footprint. Analog radio bandwidth has recently shrunk from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz, which is about the limit for analog technology without seriously degrading radio voice quality. With digital technology, channel bandwidth can be compressed to a spectrum-efficient 6.25 kHz by using vocoders and error correction.