Scott Tschetter, vice president at Eastern Communications—one of largest Harris dealers in the country—spoke with IWCE’s Urgent Communications Editor Donny Jackson about key industry trends for radio dealers, including life after rebanding/narrowbanding, encryption challenges and training staff for an IP-based environment.

 

Have you seen a downturn in business with work related to the FCC mandates of 800 MHz rebanding and UHF/VHF rebanding winding down?

“No. The business is different. We did have a spike in repeaters [in 2012], as a lot of people were finishing up narrowbanding. There were a lot of customers—because of funding or a variety of reasons—that didn’t narrowband until the end, so we sold a lot more repeaters last year than we did [in 2013].

“But we’re very busy this year, because there are still over 2,000 trunked-radio systems that are migrating to P25. There’s still a lot of grant dollars flowing to municipalities, and they’re making fresh investments in their radio systems.”

 

What areas of the industry specifically are driving the new business?

“Most of what I see is that the end of life for SmartNet/SmartZone and the end of life on EDACS is driving customers to migrate their system. The local dealer is always going to be a part of that, at least from a service-support standpoint, and—depending on who they are and their relationship with the customer—they might even be selling the equipment.

“There’s a lot of activity in E-911. I think potentially the next big round of funding that’s going to be out there is for the PSAPs, as people try to get funding for the migration to E-911. We’ve seen a lot of quoting activity of people upgrading obsolete consoles and 911 systems for the new standards-based protocols.”

 

Just to clarify, are you seeing an increase in E-911 or next-generation 911 business?

“I would say more E-911, but people want technology that’s scalable and migratable to next-gen 911. The NG-SEC standard [for security on next-gen 911] has been out there for a year. I don’t think it’s really been adopted by the industry yet, in terms of being implemented. But everyone knows it’s out there, and there’s a lot people replacing their radio-dispatch equipment and their 911 answering systems.