Padcom offers APCO attendees ‘wireless data management’
At the Padcom booth at the APCO national conference in Nashville, Tenn., Mark Ferguson, the company’s director of marketing, said that Padcom came to offer its Connectivity Suite wireless data management platform.
“The platform allows public safety agencies to use wireless data communications in much the same way as wireline data communications. The idea behind the suite is that it manages the issues involved with wireless data communications. Those could be bandwidth issues, security issues, device or application management issues.”
Ferguson said that Padom introduced the suite in March, based on success the company had with a previous product. “The suite expands that product to fit issues that wireless data users face,” he explained.
For customers, Padcom targets agencies that recognize the need and value of wireless data communications in improving the efficiency of officers on the street.
Comparing Padcom’s product to those of its competitors, Ferguson said that most purveyors of wireless data use private RF, including Dataradio and Motorola with its RD-LAP product and, increasingly, M/A-Com with its OpenSky product.
“Historically, what they provided was the ability to communicate using data over proprietary network. Although that was a good first step, and it got them started, it also constrained them to using proprietary applications written for the network. Unfortunately, it also constrained them to bandwidth,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said that Padcom had been involved in wireless data for a dozen years, starting in private RF and moving to combine public networks, initially CDPD and then 802.11. He said that the company provides agencies with the ability to deploy using either public networks as combination of CDPD and wireless LAN or the ability to supplement a wireless infrastructure with wireless hot spots.
Padcom identifies two primary issues when it comes to wireless data: coverage and bandwidth. Ferguson said that addressing one often comes at the expense of the other.
“An agency can build a private RF network or use a public WAN. But what happens is, if they have good coverage, the bandwidth available is not great. They can’t send large volumes of information,” he said.
“On the other side, you can get all the bandwidth you want with 802.11 hot spots. You can get all the throughput you want, but the coverage is limited.”
Ferguson said that agencies want the coverage of a WAN and the bandwidth provided by the hot spot. The Padcom technology combines hot spots with WANs.
“The beauty of it, from the agency’s perspective, is that the solution is seamless and transparent to their officers. All the end users see is that data moves faster from time to time. Agencies like officer to focus on work their doing rather then being a technical person who has to make switches in a computer and who has to know coverage areas,” he said.
Ferguson said that agencies that already have an RF infrastructure investment can use Padcom’s software solution on their computers and still use the data network in which they’ve invested.