EFJohnson announced the IP25 Trunked Infrastructure System, an encrypted end-to-end digital Project 25-compliant system that uses voice-over-IP technology to integrate repeaters, a digital dispatch console, system management, a secure key management facility for over-the-air re-keying of radios in the field and a portable PDA-based key loader. In addition, the 28-channel UHF/VHF single-site system supports AES and DES-OFB encryptions for secure FIPS-compliant communications.

One advantage of the system is that it does not require a gateway or network switch to link digital consoles and repeaters, said John Szpac, director of infrastructure engineering. “It's a more robust architecture,” he said. “The absence of a central switch means many points can fail before the entire network goes down.”

The company first announced the product in March 2004, with delivery scheduled for late last year, but delays in the development cycle forced EFJohnson to recently relaunch the product. One factor was the relocation of the company's engineering team from Waseca, Minn., to EFJohnson's headquarters in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

“That turned out to disruptive because some people decided not to make the move,” Szpac said. “We had to hire replacements and that takes time.”

The system's complexity was another factor that delayed product development, according to Szpac. “To be honest, we found that a system of this complexity takes a little more time to gestate than we thought,” he said.

Critics question whether a company the size of EFJohnson, which has just 190 employees, has the resources to develop a trunking system of any kind, much less one as seemingly complex as the IP25 Trunked Infrastructure System. The answer is that the company doesn't, which is why it solicited help from other original equipment manufacturers, said Szpac. For example, Montreal-based Telex Communications produced the system's dispatch console. “Telex had a lot of what we wanted already in place,” he said. “They brought the expertise in that area. It is a good partnership.”

In addition, HP supplied the system's trunking servers while Cisco Systems provided its routers. “The use of off-the-shelf components lets users go down to the local Comp USA and buy [replacement] equipment,” Szpac said. “Once properly configured, it will run.”