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Low band radio systems in the 30-50MHz band remain widely used by the electricity industry throughout the US. Over time, the number of manufacturers of equipment in this frequency band has dwindled and products have become expensive, so now many low band users are looking for replacement systems. It is clear that it will be increasingly difficult to source equipment for this band going forward. It may be that your current radio system is ready for upgrade to modern voice and data functionality necessary for your business. Perhaps your system is older and maintaining it has become uneconomic and unreliable and a more cost-effective option is becoming urgent. If you're facing issues like these, read on and we will walk you through your options.
Radio systems are designed to be the last technology standing in an emergency – and this design focus means some radio sites last intact for decades. The market today offers technologies that are based on independent technical protocols. The prevailing technologies are Analog, Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), P25, dPMR/NXDN and TETRA. What all these technologies have in common is they offer users an option to make an instant voice call and send data over these same digital networks providing the ability to support more sophisticated data applications. In a comparison chart covering multiple dimensions and merits like Cost, Open Standard, Feature Set, 6.25kHz Compliant, Talk Paths per Repeater, Frequency Spacing and Applicable Frequencies, it is obvious that the best all-around value replacement digital technology for users that rely on a professional system to address the voice and data needs of their mobile workforce is DMR.
If suitable frequencies cannot be found through the FCC frequency coordination process, then there are some options with spectrum in VHF and UHF Part 22 Spectrum. In addition to the Part 22 spectrum, the 220MHz Bands (AMTS and 220MHz band) was also auctioned and is held by individual license holders.
Part 22 spectrum was initially available for paging use, however was converted to Mobile use and auctioned off. Frequencies are 152/158MHz in VHF and 454/459MHz in UHF. Part 22 spectrum is licensed geographically, and the license holder may put a transmitting station anywhere in the area allowed by the license and the channels are exclusive. 220MHz spectrum was also auctioned in the same way as the Part 22 spectrum is also licensed geographically. Both Part 22 spectrum and 220MHz are ideal for wide area system construction.
Not Just Voice
Voice has historically been the primary use for radio, but modern systems are now delivering data-driven business tools over the same frequencies. The balance of usage between voice and data will also drive the design of your new system and the capacity your system needs to handle.
An IP site connect is a Tier II system where the radios are connected using an IP network. While simple in concept, the multiple talk path per repeater of the DMR system allows local, regional and wide area groups to be used and the system allows radios to roam automatically by having the repeaters broadcast beacons to allow the radios to automatically select the best repeater for communication.
DMR Tier III is a more sophisticated radio system, particularly suited to systems with a high number of users and greater traffic.
DMR Tier II and Tier III systems may be used together if required which is particularly useful if there is a combination of high density/high call volume (Tier III) in some parts of the system and lower density of calls (Tier II) in other parts of the system.
Upgrading technology presents a potential productivity risk to any organization, but rarely for the reason people think. Mature technology replacements happen every day without major technical mishap, as vendors are experienced in rolling out replacement technology. The true risks of moving to a different technology lies in setting your workforce up for success by preparing personnel for the new changes ahead, before a new technology is rolled out.
Clear communication on why a change is coming and how the change impacts staff are key. Preparing your workforce for change is key to a smooth adoption of any new technology.
Low band radio systems in the 30-50MHz band remain widely used by the electricity industry throughout the US. Over time, the number of manufacturers of equipment in this frequency band has dwindled and products have become expensive, so now many low band users are looking for replacement systems. It is clear that it will be increasingly difficult to source equipment for this band going forward.