Trident Micro Systems hosts trunking seminar Trident Micro Systems, Arden, NC, hosted a “Future of Trunking” seminar in Las Vegas on Dec. 16, 1998. The seminar focused on Trident’s Passport trunking protocol and the NTS network switch. The one-day seminar at the Alexis Park Hotel drew 150 radio dealers and SMR operators. Trident has held similar seminars in San Francisco and Boston.
Among the presenters were Rhett Grotzinger, vice president of Trident Micro Systems; Dave Anderson, an engineer by trade and the president of Trident; Charlie Van Pelt, vice president of ProLink Systems, Roswell, GA; and several Passport licensees.
Passport is an enhanced protocol designed to support wide-area networking and seamless roaming for subscriber radios between sites. Operators can link multiple systems into a network, offering broad coverage.
Eight competing radio manufacturers support the protocol: Icom, Kenwood, Ritron, Scholer-Johnson, SEA, Standard Communications and Tait Electronics.
“Trident has successfully, in multiple forums, brought competing radio manufacturers together to discuss their Passport radio plans and rollout schedules with prospective customers,” Grotzinger said.
Ritron’s executive vice president, Stephen Rice, demonstrated Patriot SST Plus and Patriot RTX Plus radios working with the Passport system. Ritron’s repeater, the Patriot RRX, was also used in Trident’s demonstration, showing that the multichannel trunking system passed the protocol.
Roy Place, director of land-mobile sales for Standard Communications announced that Standard’s UHF, 800MHz and 900MHz mobile radios would be ready to deliver in February. Anderson used Standard’s mobiles in the seminar’s demonstration.
Grotzinger began the seminar with an overview of the Passport trunking protocol. “LTR, as we recognized years ago, was very limited by design,” he said. “We tried to find a way to take LTR and develop a protocol compatible to that and beyond.”
Trident promoted Passport as a protocol that is backward-compatible with LTR and that lets operators easily move to digital. “It answers the near- and long-term needs of trunking operators in an industry where changes will come quickly. It will help you take the huge step to digital,” Grotzinger said. He also said that the systems were easy to maintain from a remote location: “Anything that you had to do with a screwdriver before can now be made with a computer.”
NTS networking is an infrastructure designed to protect the Passport hardware from become obsolescence as technology changes. It uses an all-digital switch environment, and the migration to digital or DC/MA technology is as simple as a board change. (DC/MA, from ComSpace, is a digital format designed to increase capacity to as many as eight digital voice paths per channel.)
Anderson explained the NTS infrastructure and demonstrated the NTS network and Passport-compatible radios. “We wanted something that allows new technologies to be implemented easily. We wanted a system that will work today that we can expand tomorrow,” he said. NTS can support digital and analog channels at the same site.
Van Pelt’s company, ProLink Systems, provides network integration, system engineering and consulting services. Van Pelt gave advice on spread spectrum and how the networks could be connected. T1 was the preferred method.
Legislators reproach auctions, private licensing A Dec. 22 letter to FCC Chairman William E. Kennard from six congressmen with telecommunications oversight reproached agency spectrum management activities-particularly auctions and the disposition of private wireless licenses.
The bipartisan letter from Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), Rep. W. J. “Billy” Tauzin (R-LA), Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD), Sen. John B. Breaux (D-LA), Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and Sen. Slade Gorten (R-WA) said the FCC has “frequently ignored” alternative licensing methods. “Instead, the Commission has adopted policies resulting in mutual exclusivity that could have been avoided,” The legislators added that 1997 revisions to Section 309(j)(6)(e) of the Communications Act were “unambiguous” and that “the Commission was obligated to consider ways to avoid mutual exclusivity among applicants before conducting an auction. … The Commission must not ignore what Congress enacted by reading this provision out of law and adopting policies inconsistent with statutory requirements.”
The letter criticized public comments by the FCC staff that the its mandate is to use auctions as its primary licensing tool.
The letter also emphasized that 1997 legislation directed private wireless frequencies to be increased “in a timely manner,” and it noted that an as-yet-unreleased Notice of Public Rulemaking from the FCC recommending competitive bidding for private wireless licenses would be “inconsistent with law and the intent of Congress.”
IDA verifies Trakit as compatible with EDACS Fargo, ND-based IDA has announced the completion of the verification process confirming its Trakit GPS/AVL fleet management system’s compatibility with Ericsson’s Enhanced Digital Access Communications System (EDACS).
The testing was done in the data verification laboratory at Ericsson Private Radio Systems, Lynchburg, VA, with further testing at Racom, Marshalltown, IA. The first installation took place in January at Sioux Valley Southwestern Electric, Coleman, SD, on Racom’s EDACS network.
Trakit is designed for vehicle and mobile equipment fleet management. The system combines GPS with EDACS to provide AVL.
Intek Global makes ready for the new millennium Look for the jewel within Intek Global, and you’ll find linear modulation (LM). Most of what the company offers-technology transfer and intellectual property rights (IPR) licensing; airtime service; data and voice business radio communications products and software sales-springs from LM.
LM fits 16.2kbps data, voice communications and five-frames/second video within 5kHz-wide channels. LM suits 220MHz applications and meets VHF and UHF spectrum refarming requirements. The refarming market is estimated to be worth as much as $25 billion. Last year, Intek received FCC-type acceptance for VHF highband LM refarming products. By January, it had sold two VHF LM systems.
Using specific capabilities of its six subsidiary companies, Intek offers LM in a variety of products and applications, improving its prospect for worldwide acceptance. Bristol University researchers originally developed LM under a British government contract for spectrum-efficient technology. The technology has begun rolling out in a big way.
* Commercialization and licensing- Among other rights, Intek owns IPR to an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that makes LM use in radio communications products practical. Its Intek Global Technologies (IGT) subsidiary promotes LM technology transfer and IPR licensing worldwide.
For example, the Finnish telecommunications giant, Nokia, is one year into a five-year technology, development and supply agreement with IGT that incorporates key LM technology components into Trans-European Trunked Radio (TETRA) products. The TETRA market includes an estimated five to 10 million users.
Another agreement between IGT and South Korean mobile radio equipment manufacturer Kukjae Electronics allows Kukjae to manufacture and sell LM-compatible radio products and to operate narrowband LM radio networks. Product distribution includes Korea and, potentially, other Asian markets.
* Worldwide distribution-Intek would like to distribute branded LM products worldwide. It already distributes in the United States through its Intek Global, USA and RoameR One subsidiaries, and it has the Korean connection. In January, it formed a Bangkok-based subsidiary, Intek Global Asia, to develop joint ventures and strategic partnerships with Pacific Rim wireless companies.
“We will be providing this large market with a broad range of product and service capabilities in addition to licensing rights,” said Intek Global chairman Robert Shiver. He sees LM’s ability to increase existing spectrum capacity for advanced data transmission applications as particularly attractive for Asian wireless providers.
* Airtime services-These days, Intek says “data” first and “voice” second in describing U.S. business radio airtime network services offered by its RoameR One subsidiary to mobile fleet operators nationally, regionally and locally. Data communication and vehicle location products and software from its Data Express subsidiary can be used on anyone’s system, and they boost RoameR One’s capability to serve customers on its own network of more than 270 repeaters at 220MHz.
Auctions and NRTC In November 1998, Intek bought two 10-channel nationwide, seven 15-channel regional and 172 10-channel “Economic Area” (local) 220MHz licenses in the FCC spectrum auction. In a co-funding partnering arrangement with the Herndon, VA-based National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), Intek Global will share with NRTC the $12 million cost of the new licenses.
With 45 channels available to it throughout the country, Intek is considering additional service options including two-way paging, interactive telemetry, alarm monitoring, high-speed and/or wider-bandwidth data services and, for high-volume customers, dedicated, turnkey wireless systems.
Moreover, NRTC promoted LM to its 900 rural co-op members. They can construct systems for their own use and sell airtime services to others, extending 220MHz LM coverage-and dealer representation-to areas where Intek otherwise might not construct for many years. To save an estimated $1 million annually, Intek is deactivating, but retaining for later use, selected commercial sites in under-populated areas, a step made possible by the auction results.
NRTC has committed to buy at least $50 million of LM equipment during the next five years. In November, it placed an initial $5 million purchase order. The first drawdown on the initial purchase is $1.9 million worth of LM equipment and existing assets destined for an NRTC member, Louisiana Rural Electrical Co-op.
Transcrypt International/EFJohnson Securicor Electronics cannot manufacture equipment in the quantities that Intek needs to meet the demand. In January, Intek announced a manufacturing agreement with Lincoln, NE-based Transcrypt International. Transcrypt will use the Waseca, MN, plant that makes EFJohnson equipment to manufacture LM mobile units.
Additional contracts that might follow may include base stations and portables. Before Transcrypt bought the E. F. Johnson Company, Johnson had made some LM products for a previous owner of the technology rights.
Asked why Transcrypt was selected, Intek Global, USA president Robert M. Hardy said that the choice was based primarily on quality, reliability and cost.
“We’re confident that Transcrypt can deliver a quality product on time, at or below the agreed-upon price,” he said. “We may be talking with other suppliers, too, for agreements that include licensing of LM and manufacturing.” Additional factors that made the Transcrypt agreement attractive were the proximity of Transcrypt’s facilities to Intek’s centralized operating headquarters in Kansas City, MO, and its previous experience with LM.
Sales of new EFJohnson systems have been less than robust, as Transcrypt has stated in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. If the situation has left Transcrypt with excess manufacturing capacity, it would make the Intek contract all the more attractive.
At the least, Transcrypt chairman John Connor said, “We have the available manufacturing experience and resources, and they have the demand from their rapidly-growing 220 MHz customer roster.”
Millennium strategy To promote near-term revenue growth and to achieve operating profitability by fiscal 2000, the company’s “Intek Millennium” strategy includes consolidating, in Kansas City, its products, services, resources, assets and infrastructure for technical, financial and administrative operations, along with reducing operating costs and divesting non-core assets.
Last year, Intek sold its UK-based Equipment Services Unit subsidiary and part of its Securicor Electronics subsidiary for $8 million each to its majority shareholder. Securicor Communications Ltd., a subsidiary of Securicor plc, which owns 62% of Intek. Securicor has given Intek credit support from the start of its investment, including the most recent $25 million credit facility granted in December 1998. Intek is reviewing its other business segments for other possible divestitures.
“Intek Millennium’s role in efficiently realigning our businesses to maximize resource and capital use will produce record growth in fiscal 1999 and profitability by fiscal 2000,” said Shiver. “Meanwhile, the new $25 million credit facility will enable us to move quickly to fully implement the plan.”
Hardy said that dealers had opportunities to subcontract with Intek to sell airtime serv-ices. Also, dealers can sell Data Express AVL software and hardware that works in any spectrum.
Intek seeks dealers where RoameR One has built viable sites that are underloaded. Intek expects to convert selected Midland dealers to Intek Global dealers with special opportunities, and a few new Intek Global dealers may be added.
Web sites with more information include: www.intekglobal.com www.midlandusa.com www.linearmod.com www.dataexp.com www.securicor.com
Intek Global execs Robert J. Shiver, 44, became chairman and chief executive in September 1997. He previously headed Centennial Security Holdings, a large electronic security and services company. Roger Wiggs, chief executive of Securicor plc, said that he selected Shiver because he “demonstrated an outstanding record of entrepreneurial ability and leadership in various companies, including Centennial, developing recurring revenue products and services.”
Robert M. Hardy, 56, became president of Intek Global, USA in July 1998. Hardy is a 20-year AT&T veteran with senior management experience in sales, marketing and administration.
George A. Valenti, 48, became chief financial officer in August 1998. He previously was chief financial officer of EnergyOne in Kansas City, MO, a joint venture between UtiliCorp United and PECO Energy.
David Niebert, 43, an Intek executive since 1994, became vice president of spectrum management in January 1999. He was executive vice president from October 1997 to December 1998.
Rick Hillum, 40, is president of the Intek Global Technologies subsidiary in Bath, UK. Along with Prof. Joe McGeehan of Bristol University, he is a founder of linear modulation technology.
Thomas Little, 50, became managing director of Securicor Electronics in Bath in August 1996, having spent six years in director positions within Securicor Group.
Kenneth R.E. Wiggs, 55, became the head of the Bangkok-based Intek Global Asia subsidiary in January 1999. He previously consulted the Thai government’s telephone company.
Louis J. Monari, 48, became vice president of administration in January 1997. He previously was vice president and general manager of Digital Solutions, Somerset, NJ.
Product sampler: Data Express, Midland, RoameR One Data Express – The Fleet Management 2000 Windows-based software offers real-time vehicle location, status messaging and management reporting. The model DE-2400G RF data modem transmits data over SMR trunking (Motorola, LTR, EDACS) or conventional analog radio systems at lowband, VHF, UHF, 220MHz, 800MHz or 900MHz frequencies. The model DE-500 mobile status messenger “plug & play” status messaging device has five user-definable backlit keys and an optional on-board six-channel GPS receiver for fleet management/AVL.
Intek Global, USA – The Midland brand of FM portables, mobiles, repeaters and accessories is well-known and comprehensive. Perhaps lesser-known are its 220MHz LM products, including the model 75-R3005 repeater with advanced digital network trunking, 100W PEP output and 16.2kbps data capability. The model 75-M4115D mobile radio has classic mobile, display mobile and data options. The model 75-P4215 portable radio has a data port, alphanumeric display and status messaging.
The portable has had delivery problems, though. The FCC type-accepted the unit in June 1997, and the company had planned to introduce it later that year. At that time, an Intek spokesman said, “The development of this radio will play an important part in the commercialization of the 220MHz band of frequencies currently being built across the country. We have had strong customer demand for this product and are pleased to now have a complete product line for this market.”
In December 1998, two 220MHz LM system operators said that they had Midland LM portables for evaluation. One said that it worked well; the other said that he had not tested it.
An Intek spokesman said that the company plans to introduce the units by April 1999. The portable is applicable to both public safety and utility applications. Meanwhile, Intek has capitalized on the RF power amplifier modules developed for the portable. In October 1998, it gave UK semiconductor manufacturer Semelab the worldwide rights to manufacture and distribute the modules.
“It is no great secret that we already have plans to extend the linear power amplifier line into other spectrums including VHF and UHF bands to cover the new PAMR market developments,” said John Walker, Semelab’s RF Division Manager.
Intek Global Technologies – As a research and development company, IGT develops products and software for its parent company and others. IGT has the responsibility to license LM technology and commercialize LM products worldwide.
Moreover, it can design complete radio units and complete radio systems. It designs application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC). Development can be either to the level of a prototype proven technology or to full manufacturing capability. Arrangements can involve a technology transfer or licensing of intellectual property rights.
RoameR One – Airtime services, products and software for data and business radio communications are available from RoameR One, its dealers and, before long, some members of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC).
RoameR One operates more than 270 repeater sites with about 1,500 channels and 11,000 customer units. Its service is concentrated in California, the St. Louis-Kansas City, MO, corridor, New York and the New England states, and the Ohio Valley. NRTC offers its 900 co-op members the ability to construct 220MHz systems and to sell RoameR One airtime in rural areas. Since bidding successfully in last year’s spectrum auction, Intek has nationwide rights to 45 220MHz channels for expansion.
One observer noted that RoameR One loaded many customers last year at special rates in a short-term promotion to meet Intek-mandated target numbers. RoameR One also has benefited from the migration of former customers of defunct Geotek. Also migrating to RoameR One are some former Nextel customers who are displeased with airtime charges either proposed or experienced in converting from analog to digital service.
Securicor Electronics-Manufacturing service is provided by Securicor Electronics on a contract basis for electronic products, including printed circuit board assembly, full product build, material sourcing and engineering support.
Securicor’s key customers are in the defense, transport, communications and utilities industries. The company also manufactures radio equipment for Intek Global on a small-volume, prototype basis.
FCC Notes Antennas fail to comply with registration rules A recent FCC audit of existing antenna structures showed that 28% of structures audited were not registered as required by FCC rules. The rules require that structures that may pose a hazard to air navigation must be registered with the FCC and most must also display special painting and lighting in the interest of air traffic safety. The rules also require the owner to display the registration number in a visible location near the base of the structure. The audit discovered that the registration number was missing from more than half of the registered structures.
Antenna owners keep lights burning The FCC has informed antenna licensees of their responsibilities under the rules for keeping antenna structures properly lighted during and after the Y2K date change. Y2K-related problems could cause a structure’s lighting system to fail, creating a hazard for passing air traffic. Antenna owners should evaluate their systems during the next periodic inspection and must correct any problems before the anticipated date of failure or malfunction, and also switch to daily visual inspections of structure lighting.