Zetron yesterday announced its new Pathway radio gateway, which will leverage multiple technology interfaces to help network operators maintain service while migrating system from an analog platform to an IP-based technology, according to a company official.

Expected to be commercially available late this year, the Pathway platform includes a Project 25 (P25) Project 25 (P25) Digital Fixed Station Interface (DFSI), an analog 4-wire interface, a Motorola Quantar and other Motorola V.24 interfaces, according to a Zetron press release.

“The box provides interfaces with up to two radios,” Zetron product manager Jim Lyon said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “You can select either of those three interfaces into the radio. Out of the DFSI interface to the console system, we can communicate with up to four different console systems—we do all of the arbitration, all of the control that allow these four agencies or four console systems to share that resource.

“We are the first in the industry that give you the ability to talk to multiple console systems. There are products out there that allow you talk with Motorola Quantar and DFSI, but we also have the analog and DFSI all in that one interface, so we’re the first to have that ability to select your own interface.”

Zetron decided to develop the Pathway gateway after listening to radio operators outline some of the difficulties they face when trying to transition radio technology—particularly migrations from legacy analog systems to networks that leverage IP connectivity, Lyon said.

“The older infrastructure is circuit-switched, and this basically will allow you to tie into that old circuit-switched infrastructure and then have IP backhaul,” he said. “We have the ability to migrate away from the old copper 4-wire interface to an IP network.

“It’s an excellent way to provide a demarcation point into IP, so you can modernize all of your command and control to an IP infrastructure.”

Two Pathway boxes—supporting up to four channels—would fit into a standard 19-inch rack space, Lyon said. Zetron does not expect to finalize pricing for the Pathway solution until at least late this month, but the cost is expected to be in the range of about $1,000 per channel, or about $2,000 for a two-channel box, he said.

Pathway could be attractive to network operators under several scenarios, particularly those wanting to maximize their investments in the reliable Motorola Quantar base stations, Lyon said.

““We looked at the federal market, and the number was in the thousands [of Quantar base stations in use],” Lyons said. “The federal government is starting to look at replacing a lot of their infrastructure. A lot of utilities are starting to migrate toward trunking, so they’re looking at this as the ability to maintain their conventional systems as they move toward trunking systems.

“There could be large potential internationally … just because of the amount of Quantars that are located internationally—Motorola sold Quantars everywhere. As people are looking to migrate their systems and maintain that capability, this gives them the ability to upgrade their infrastructure.”

Zetron will have a Pathway data sheet and a product prototype at its booth at the APCO conference and expo later this month in Orlando.