ORLANDO—Push-to-talk-over-cellular (PoC) offerings are replacing land-mobile-radio (LMR) systems in many commercial environments, as non-mission-critical customer increasingly are opting for the lower cost and application flexibility inherent associated with PoC infrastructure rather than owning private LMR networks, according to multiple speakers at IWCE 2018.

Although more public attention is paid to the public-safety LMR new, first responders represent about only 20% of the overall LMR market that includes about 10 million radios, according to Igor Glubochansky, AT&T’s general manager of mobility product management. Entities that fit into the “extended primary” public-safety category—many of which also need mission-critical performance from their push-to-talk solution—represent another 20% of the LMR market, while non-mission-critical users account for about 60% of the LMR radios today, Glubochansky said.

Andrew Seybold, wireless analyst and author of “The Public Safety Advocate” blog, said commercial users that do not require mission-critical communications are proving to be ideal customers of PoC services—often with the replacement of an LMR system.

“It’s already happened in the commercial space a lot,” Seybold said of the transition from LMR to PoC. “The number of LMR users in the commercial life has gone down dramatically. It’s stayed the same—or grown—in public safety, but the land-mobile radios in the business-radio market have gone down 30% or 40%.”

Dave George, president of Pryme Radio Products—an accessories manufacturer that sells to user of both LMR and PoC solutions—echoed this sentiment, noting the significant adoption of PoC in myriad commercial environments, from hospitality to construction to transit entities.

“We have some pretty major hotel chains that have taken out their radio systems and have switched to PoC, which is pretty interesting,” George said. “We have some casinos in Las Vegas that might have over 1,000 subscribers on the network, and they took out MOTOTRBO systems and went to iPod Touches.”

Transitioning from LMR to PoC solutions is becoming commonplace in the commercial space, but changing the push-to-talk platform has never been the initial goal of the company making the technological migration, according to George.

“In every single one of those cases that I can think of, the decision to use a PoC app came after a decision was made to run some other kind of app,” he said.

In the hotel industry, applications that can manage valet offerings, room service and the status of rooms have greatly increased efficiencies and management’s visibility into the overall operation, George said. To support these applications, hotels typically invest heavily in Wi-Fi networks—also used to serve customers’ broadband needs—and have staff members utilize the applications on lower-cost devices, such as an iPod Touch, he said.

“Imagine that a housekeeper gets a message on an iPod Touch that says, ‘Room 107 has been vacated. Please go clean it,’” George said. “She cleans the room and clicks one button on the screen that says, ‘The room is ready’ or another button on the screen that says, ‘Maintenance is required,’ because a lightbulb is burned out.

“That information goes down to the front desk, goes into their reservation computer, and they know if that room is ready or not. There are some hotels in Las Vegas now where you just check in at a kiosk—you don’t even have to go to the [registration] desk—because the system knows the status of everything in that hotel.

“How often does a housekeeper, a valet or a room-service person actually need to talk? Not that often, but they need all of that other stuff.”