Two-way radio buyers face myriad choices, considerations
Today’s buyers of two-way portable radios face an array of choices and must balance their need for new technologies with the current digital migration, environmental considerations, the transition to narrowband operation and budgetary limitations, representatives of three leading manufacturers said.
Joe Watts, a product manager in Kenwood USA’s communication division, said buyers first must be aware of current FCC mandates.
Large private-radio system owners are transitioning to 12.5 kHz bandwidths to meet the FCC’s 2013 deadline and, as a result, have put system conversions and new buildouts on hold. This is due to a recent FCC ruling that requires 6.25 kHz equipment to be available but provides no timetable for this migration, giving no assurances that system owners will realize a practical usage life regarding their 12.5 kHz systems. Meanwhile, the mandate requires manufacturers to provide 6.25 kHz operation in all 150 and 450 MHz equipment over 2 watts by 2011, Watts said.
“This will be a pricing challenge for lower-tier equipment,” he said. “Not enough consideration was given to this consequence, as most all government, business and industrial licensees also have a need for lower-tier equipment.”
According to Doug Chapman, vice president of product marketing for Tait Electronics North America, an important issue facing two-way radio users is that the migration to digital solutions may result in functional interference issues. The issue came to light in January 2006 in an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers report that said a perceived audio-quality issue surfaces when two-way radios are used by firefighters wearing air masks. Chapman warns that when first-responder agencies go through product selection, they need to consider interference issues caused by specific work environments.
“This issue is still being assessed,” Chapman said. “But when purchasing systems, understanding how products fit into the environment is key.”
Scott French, Motorola’s director of market solutions with the government and public-safety division, said another trend concerns the development of standard-based radios in order to reduce the price of two-way handsets and make new systems more affordable for smaller, rural agencies.
“It does not have encryption or some of the features of the top-line radios, but it’s very affordable for rural customers,” French said.
Future technologies will focus on the evolution of the portable radio, so it is capable of doing more than the traditional land-mobile-radio function, he said. This includes incorporating additional technologies into the radio, such as the ability to operate in multiple frequency bands.
“That’s all in a research-and-development stage right now, because the market itself will be converging towards digital voice and data services, so we’re looking to include a lot more function in the portable radio such that it is simple for the user to operate,” French said. “So instead of handing them multiple radios, you have a multipurpose, multimode, multiband radio.”
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AdvanceTec Industries ▪ Advanced Charger Technology ▪ Aearo Technologies ▪ Aeroflex Test Solutions ▪ Battery Zone ▪ Cadex Electronics ▪ Carlson Wireless Technologies ▪ Cut-Rate Batteries ▪ Daniels Electronics ▪ Dataradio ▪ Datron World Communications ▪ David Clark Company ▪ DKM Solutions ▪ EFJohnson ▪ EnGenius Technologies ▪ FreeLinc ▪ Honeywell/Global Technology Systems ▪ HYT North America ▪ Icom America ▪ KENDOO ▪ Klein Electronics ▪ M/A-COM ▪ Midland Radio ▪ Motorola ▪ New Communications Solutions ▪ Otto Communications ▪ Priam Technology ▪ RAM Mounting Systems ▪ RELM Wireless ▪ Ritron ▪ Samlex America ▪ Tait Electronics North America ▪ Thales Communications ▪ Vertex Standard ▪ W & W Manufacturing ▪ Wireless Pacific
For complete listings of two-way radios and accessories, visit the MRT 2007 Resource Guide at www.mrtmag.com.