Two-way radio is not dead yet
Have you heard the rumors that the two-way radio industry is dying? People seem to think it has become antiquated, behind the times and increasingly irrelevant. Well, one only has to look at the incredible new digital technology coming into the marketplace to know that the rumors of two-way radio’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
This is a great time for our industry. A shift in technology has been necessitated, in part, by government regulations that will require more efficient use of the existing spectrum. However, these regulatory restrictions are far from restricting — rather, they are bringing to the market an unprecedented number of new technologies. As a result, there is a newfound enthusiasm developing for ground-breaking digital technologies with FDMA and TDMA capabilities.
In addition, wideband is increasingly moving toward narrowband and changing the size and scope of communication fleets. Competing FDMA and TDMA technologies are vying for the attentions and loyalties of users in many industries. These technologies are unique because multiple users can communicate on a single channel at the same time.
FDMA is fully recognized and implemented worldwide as a powerful technology platform. It operates on any single unique channel within the FCC-established 6.25 kHz emission mask and within the 70 MHz bandwidth of the radio. These 6.25 kHz channels are independent and unique, giving the frequency coordinator complete discretion to locate and license channels in order to minimize interference.
TDMA lets several users share the same frequency by dividing it into different timeslots. The users transmit in rapid succession, allowing multiple users to share the same transmission frequency while using only part of the total bandwidth. Although this is an effective solution, it requires a fully available 12.5 kHz channel.
Today’s digital technology can be configured to offer advantages such as better noise reduction, greater voice quality, more efficiency and integration with legacy systems. Moreover, many of the newly available radios make better use of available spectrum via analog logic trunked radio capability. Operators can place three to four times the previous number of users on a system, increasing the flexibility of the user’s currently licensed spectrum.
With a widely varied population of users, two-way radio is a nearly universal and extremely flexible means of reliable communication — and digital radio is its future. The combination of increased performance, enhanced spectral efficiency and advanced features will let professional users migrate from analog systems to digital systems in the near future — not only because they’ll have to, but because they’ll want to. Now is the time to make the change. Once they license 6.25 kHz channels and implement the right equipment, users will be prepared for upcoming regulatory changes.
There is an enormous number of wideband analog users who have been waiting to migrate to more advanced systems. The time is now. Digital radio technologies have breathed new life into the industry and opened up a world of possibilities for users of all kinds.
Chris Lougee is vice president at Icom America and leads its land mobile radio division. A member of the Icom America team for 16 years, he heads a sales staff of more than 70 Icom-employed and -contracted sales representatives. Chris also spearheaded the development of Icom America Systems (IAS), a turnkey radio systems solution provider.
Read “FCC probes Indiana two-way radio dealer” to learn why the FCC might revoke Commercial Radio Services’ licenses. www.mrt.com