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Will Niagara Get What It Bargained For? Emergency Radio System Brings Profits to Motorola

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It’s always good when you see new radio communication systems being installed and going live on a big scale. Motorola are one of the big companies able to implement these systems, but as you can see below it didn’t all go smoothly, 

This is the first of a multi part investigative series on Niagara County’s new “Emergency Radio Communications System”.

The Reporter plans to  examine the roles of county officials, elected and appointed, a Pittsburg consultant and a Syracuse lawyer, both hired by the county, and a faction of first responders and others. At the dispatch end, we will examine the role of the 2-way radio king, Motorola Solutions Inc., of Schaumberg, Ill. Motorola managed a entire network of people through various channels, at whatever frequency was needed to interconnect and transmit to themselves a lucrative contract, sold, conceived, approved, designed, built, maintained, resupplied, and sold and up-sold again.The series will examine behind the scenes the course of business – as money interests intertwined with public interests and as the project comes online, we will attempt to evaluate whether Niagara County reaped the benefits it was promised or, as is so often the case in other localities, this is another deal where Motorola seems to have alone profited.

Price?

Niagara County’s new emergency radio communications system is expected to go “live” in June or July. Reported as a $10 million project, the system’s true cost has not been published. On April 29, the Reporter filed a Freedom of Information request with the clerk of the Niagara County Legislature, Mary Jo Tamburlin, for all contracts associated with the emergency radio project.

Based on estimates of reported cost overruns, consultant and legal fees, and Motorola’s reported contract price, the system cost at least $11 million and, if change orders,  maintenance, rentals and other expenses are similar to other Motorola projects, the final cost may be substantially more.

An FCC Mandate?

In Niagara County, the stated goal of the new emergency radio system was declared to be  undertaken to comply with the FCC’s “narrowbanding” mandate which requires 2-way radio licensees to reduce bandwidth to a narrower (weaker) signal.

The purpose of the mandate, the FCC declared, was to reduce congestion on UHF and VHF frequency bands. Whether public or private, 2-way radio systems were ordered to migrate from  bandwidths of, typically, 25 kHz to a narrower 12.5 kHz or its equivalent efficiency.

The deadline was set for Jan. 1, 2013.

The deadline missed, Niagara County applied for and was granted extensions from the FCC.

The simple change to narrower bandwidth was not what made Niagara County late by two years and five months and counting.

The county melded narrowbanding with a plan to combine every public safety division in the cities, towns and villages in Niagara County, along with Niagara County’s public safety departments, into one unified Motorola designed digital system.

Each independent department would abandon their analog systems and their scores of dedicated channels and share a pool of far lesser channels that Motorola would arrange to help provide.

To be clear — the main cost of Niagara County’s Emergency Radio Communications system was not FCC narrowbanding, but the merger of all public safety’s 2-way radio communications into a single digital Motorola system to be used with top of the line Motorola 2-way radios.

Digital Trunked System Promises Better Communications, New Radios

The system, a microwave network with Motorola radio transmitters on seven radio towers strategically located throughout the county and linked to a dispatch center and a backup center replete with top of the line Motorola equipment. The system does comply with the FCC narrowbanding mandate and in addition promises, as all Motorola ‘trunked’ digital systems do, the ability of radio users on the system to be able to speak directly to any other user regardless of agency or department.

Called “interoperability,” it is perhaps infrequently used except in times of crisis when coordination among first responders can be of paramount importance.

The second feature, one that Motorola contracted to provide, was 2-way radio reception with 95 percent reliability over 95 percent of the land area of Niagara County which, if realized, is greater than the county enjoys collectively with its various analog radio channels. Finally, as a sweetener, Niagara County purchased from Motorola, at, reportedly, a cost of about $2 million some 1850 top of the line 2-way Motorola radios. Normally sold to governments for $5,000 each, Motorola discounted them to not much more than $1,000 each.

County legislators made these available as gifts to every public safety employee whose agency or department joined the new Motorola system. Not every department wanted to join. Lockport Fire Chief Thomas J. Passuite said his fire radios could be bought into compliance with narrowbanding for $3,500.

Lockport Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said his department could comply with FCC narrowbanding for $21,900.

Eggert apparently understood that by selling $5,000 list price radios for $1000, Motorola  ensured future sales. In five years or so, when the typical 2-way radio is ready for replacement, Eggert knew his department would have to buy new ones at a price 10 times higher than the $500 narrowbanding compliant 2-way analog radios cost.

The Lockport City Council – under mounting pressure from county officials – overruled Eggert and Passuite’s analog plans – and voted that their police and fire departments must join the county system and accept the gift of Motorola radios – estimated to have a replacement value of $425,000.

Now the Niagara County digital system is, according to County Manager Jeffrey Glatz, essentially finished.

Whether it will achieve the promised 95 percent coverage goals may take some time to determine.

 

Motorola has Digital Troubles and ‘Shady Dealings’ in Other Cities

In other municipalities, background noise, garbled transmissions and dead spots inside of buildings have plagued Motorola digital systems and some have failed to achieve the 95 percent coverage and 95 percent reliability Motorola appeared to have promised.

In fact, problems with Motorola digital systems are so fully documented that some readers may be surprised that Niagara County officials did not address this publicly before buying  a Motorola digital system. “Fire departments in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Phoenix and Boise, Idaho — communities that have spent tens of millions of dollars on the new equipment — are so leery of problems that they won’t use digital radios at fire scenes,” reports McClatchy DC News, a publication of the McClatchy Company, owners of Knight Ridder and 30 daily newspapers in 15 states, in a story that was part of an investigative series on Motorola’s business practices, published in 2011.

The McClatchy series prompted the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, John Roth, to order an audit to determine whether federal grant money has bankrolled biased contract awards to Motorola.

There are reports, easily found online, published in newspapers across the nation, many of which were available to Niagara County lawmakers when they were considering contracting with Motorola in 2010-2011, that suggest Motorola’s cozy dealings with government officials were something to be wary of.

Dozens of shady dealings with officials of various government agencies were alleged that led to Motorola getting questionable no bid contracts then adding change orders, as they did in DuPage County Ill., where a $7 million, no-bid contract wound up costing more than $28 million.

 

In Many Places Motorola’s Digital Systems Have Failed

There are as many reports that suggest Motorola’s digital 2-way emergency radios and digital communications systems – like the one Niagara County purchased – have a troubled history.

The City of Chicago, as the Chicago Tribune reported in 2011, spent nearly $23 million on a no-bid Motorola digital radio deal in 2006 for their fire department, “that still doesn’t work after more than five years”.

The Tribune reported that firefighters continue to use their 50-year-old analog radio system.

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff told the Tribune that “digital radios have been problematic for fire departments in big cities across the country.”

McClatchy reported that Motorola’s “digital radios’ shortcomings are so widely known that they’ve acquired nicknames. There’s the ‘digital cliff,’ when a radio is out of range and the connection ends without warning. There’s ‘bonking’ — also dubbed ‘the sound of death’ by some Philadelphia firefighters — when an important transmission gets rejected because too many other radios are using the system. Then there’s ‘going digital,’ when a radio emits a garble of beeps and tones instead of a voice.”

Failures of Motorola’s digital radios were blamed in part for two firefighter deaths in Philadelphia, two in Cincinnati and one, on April 16, 2007, when a Woodbridge, Va., firefighter died in the line of duty.

The Prince William County Department of Fire Rescue concluded that the county’s Motorola digital trunked radio system contributed to the tragedy.

And Motorola reached settlements for undisclosed sums with the families of the two dead Philadelphia firefighters.

In Hamilton County, Ohio,  after some $35 million was spent on a new Motorola digital trunked system, a 2008 fire erupted in suburban Cincinnati.

Firefighters Robin Broxterman and Brian Schira perished there after they repeatedly tried to summon help on their Motorola digital radios.

A Colerain Fire Department investigation found that, in a half-hour period, the Motorola trunked system rejected at least 43 attempted communications by firefighters, some of them because 22 agencies and 75 nonparticipants monitoring the event tied up space on the system.

Broxterman’s parents, Donald and Arlene Zang, sued Motorola but lost.

The Zang’s did not sue on the premise that Motorola’s digital trunked system was defective, but that digital trunked systems in general are inferior to analog systems for firefighting.

While the court did not rule on Zang’s argument that a digital system is inferior to analog, the court reasoned that Motorola cannot be held liable for supplying an inferior product, since it was in compliance with what the buyer, Hamilton County, wanted.

More Problems in Ontario, Orlando, Houston

Closer to home, the Niagara Regional Police in Ontario, which converted from analog to a Motorola digital system, had problems with dispatch failures in 2012 and, after repeated failures, the Ministry of Labour had to intervene demanding the department identify the problem for the immediate safety of workers.

In Orlando Fla, for years digital garbling and unintelligible transmissions made the Fire Department’s Motorola digital system worthless.

Firefighters continued to use their old analog radios.

Ultimately, according to Deputy Chief Greg Hoggatt, the digital system was righted and the department is now 100 percent digital.

But problems in other cities continue.

Jeff Caynon, the president of Houston’s firefighters’ union, said problems with Motorola’s $140 million digital system, completed in 2013, forced rescuers to resort during a blaze in May 2013 to use “hand and arm signals and cell phones as a reliable way to communicate.”

As recently as January, Houston’s Fire Department was still having problems with Motorola digital radios – having to frequently discard useless but expensive Motorola digital 2-way radios.

“It compromises the safety of firefighters at emergency incidents,” Captain Ruy Lozano, of the Houston Fire Department, told ABC News in January 2015.

Which brings us back to Niagara County.

Will Niagara County’s Motorola digital system work?

There are certainly cases where Motorola digital systems do work.

Although the successes seem to be a little harder to find on internet searches.

Motorola has Checkered Dealings with Local Governments

So how did it come about that a system with a track record of flaws was pushed through with hardly a word of discussion?

This is a topic that should be explored in depth.

Motorola secured a contract for Niagara County’s digital 2-way business in a way that parallels what the company did in dozens of other municipalities and several states.

In Chicago, Dallas, the San Francisco Bay Area and on statewide systems in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Washington, Motorola has been accused of irregularities or of winning contracts through government favoritism.

In the San Francisco Bay Area a $50 million deal imploded when investigators for the Commerce Department’s inspector general’s office concluded that a grant application had  “significant misrepresentations.”

A McClatchy survey of the largest cities in America show that Motorola won 20 of 22 contracts – about half of the time these were no bid awards.

In some municipalities Motorola has been accused of deploying sales staff whose primary tasks is to counsel government officials on how to skirt public bidding laws, something Motorola spokesmen have denied.

Similarities Between Niagara County and Other Municipalities and Motorola

Ironically Niagara County sought to hand Motorola a no bid contract.

The Republican majority on the legislature was ready to vote on a $22 million no bid Motorola contract until it was scuttled, at the 11th hour, not by the savvy resolve of cost conscious legislators but through dumb luck.

Only Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso called for an RFP and open bidding, but he was ignored.

In many localities Motorola has been accused of winning RFP’s through the aid of friendly government officials and their hired consultants who craft the RFP’s to ensure Motorola wins.

In Niagara County, after several strokes of the most extraordinary dumb luck, to be detailed in a subsequent story, an  RFP was crafted by the county’s consultant and bids were solicited,  much to the credit of certain elected officials – whose desire for the public good, as opposed to Motorola’s, was evident.

But there were some who were ostensibly working, or contracted to work, for the county who, for reasons to be examined, appeared to be working behind the scenes to aid Motorola.

As readers will see next week, Niagara County was accused of writing an RFP that not only favored Motorola but literally excluded any competitor from having a chance at winning the contract, and this, we submit, is based on standards that, once reviewed by competent experts, will reveal themselves for what they were intended to be.

Source - http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/Stories/2015/MAY12/Motorolai.html

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A Look at the Motorola DP4400

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Motorola DP4400 is a device that is capable of transforming your enterprise by making employee interactions much smarter and safer. The device features best-in-class audio and high-tech data capabilities; all meant to bring a new revolution in the world of communication.

The DP4400 delivers admirable voice quality and enables for seamless data communications through integrated GPS and Bluetooth audio capabilities. Besides that, this device is built with an intelligent audio and customizable voice announcement feature.

Because the radio is available in both UHF and VHF frequency bands, it is extremely easy to use. It offers 32 channel capacity and five buttons that are programmable. An emergency button is provided ad well alongside FM intrinsically safe options. Moreover, the device is made with IP57 specifications to enhance submersibilty.

Features of this product in brief

- Advanced signaling capabilities

The radio is available in UHF (403-527 MHz) or VHF (136-1774 MHz). It features 32 channels and 5 tone signalling capabilities. Its large and textured push-to-talk button makes it extremely easy for the programmer to tailor the use of 3 buttons – in order to increase operator efficiency.

- Easy to use and program

Besides being easily programmable, this radio features a Tri-coloured LED which enables for crystal clear visual feedback on the operating status of the radio. There is also an emergency button which is provided to ensure rapid reporting and response during critical situations.

- Effective, efficient and operable

Another admirable feature to be found on the Motorola DP4400 has PPT ID which is meant to improve communications efficiency and system operability. Its remote monitoring features go a long way to ensure user safety alongside enabling prompt assessment of remote user status. To make it even more effective, the radio comes with elegant channel scanning schemes a feat that makes it extremely easy and fast to receive calls every time.

- Enhanced audio capabilities

With a loud front-facing speaker and an intelligent audio feature which is designed to adjust the volume of the radio depending on the noise levels of the surrounding when in use. Besides its powerful audio features, the radio makes it possible to send programmable update messages when messages need to be conveyed without interrupting other workers or guests.

- Wide ranging data applications

This radio features one of the largest collections of Application Developer Programs. All applications are customized to include unique features such as email gateways, location tracking and work order ticket management.

A final word on product

Motorola DP4400’s diverse portfolio and high security features make it ideal for government and public safety.

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Review of the Motorola DP2600 Two Way Radio

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When it comes to creating of digital communications throughout your company, MOTOTRBO digital radio solutions can help keep all your employees connected. The Motorola DP2600 is a hand-held two-way radio that comes with all the latest digital technological advances. These small portables deliver on affordability and high digital quality, allowing all of your employees to speak and hear clearly regardless the working conditions.

The Motorola DP2600 display model features programmable buttons, 16 channel capacity, and water protection IP55 specifications. The volume of the radio adjusts automatically to be able to compensate for any background noises. This best-in-class technology provides a scalable solution for any communication needs within the company. The crystal clear screen allows easy navigation and install call recognition.

The reason the DP2600 is so versatile is because it is available in both VHF and UHF frequencies, with a two-line display and simple to navigate keypad that is able to handle up to 128 channels. The three programmable buttons are simple to access, the tricolor LED provides crystal clear visual feedback on the status of the operating system of the radio. The screen is easily viewable day or night, and the large textured talk button is easy to find in any conditions.

Some of the reasons the DP2600 has become one of the popular choices in the construction and assembly line industry is the compact design and the noise reduction capabilities and safety features.. The ability to switch between group or individual calls is simple, while the PTT ID is designed to simplify the system disciple and efficiency of communication. The remote monitoring system ensures employee safety while on the job by enabling quicker assessment of the remote users status.

Calls received on the DP2600 connect on the first time thanks to the unique channel scanning technology. No tools are needed to attach remote accessories to the DP2600 because it comes equipped with an accessory connector. Through the software purchase you can upgrade the radio privacy feature, transmitting interrupt, and five tone signalling. The DP2600 comes with VOX capabilities and Intelligent Audio for automatic volume adjustment to compensate for any degree of noise within the workplace that could affect sound quality.

This hand-held two-way radio IP55 sealing ensures continued operation in the harshest of working conditions. Equipped to handle multiple site coverage with the IP site connector, the DP2600 will keep everyone in the pipeline in communications with each other via the Capacity Plus and Lined capacity Plus features.

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Do 2 Way Radios Work on Cruise Ships?

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Yes, 2 way radios DO work on cruise ships. However, because the same channels tend to be a bit overused, passengers can expect a fair amount of chatter and signal interference when using their radios.

I suppose the 2 way radios/walkie talkies would be the best option. But, how important is being in constant communication with the rest of your family anyway? A ship, while large, isn’t huge. If you know the general area where people will be, you could walk over and find them. Preset arranged meeting times and places would work as well. People were able to get along fairly well without being able to directly communicate with each other at every moment of the day

So, aside from the option of setting pre-arranged meeting times, a two way radio isn’t a terrible idea, especially if you have kids. Many people reading this might simply ask why they can’t use their mobile phones. That is a very good question, after all…

If you’re going on a cruise this summer (or anytime, really), you need to be aware that your mobile phone is going to cause some problems.

Many cruise passengers are unaware and/or totally ill prepared for this fact and the cruise companies themselves are at least partly to blame for the lack of information in this area. So, will your mobile phone work at sea?

The answer is most often always “You can subscribe to our cruise line cell phone network.” What they won’t tell you is the rates you will be paying. You certainly won’t be able to find them online, and to get a proper answer, you’ll have to call the cruise line to get a full break down of what they charge for access to their cell networks. As a company that sets their own international calling rates for the Talk Abroad SIM Card, we can see the cruise ship networks in our list, and it does not look good. If you subscribe to their network, you’ll be paying anything from $4 ~ $8 per minute, depending on your location and who you are calling. Don’t forget also that they’ll be charging you for receiving inbound calls

As we’ll soon see, taking a mobile phone on a cruise can represent a logistical nightmare. At the same time, however, many of us feel naked without a phone?

More problems are presented in the form of scheduled stops (although these can also represent opportunities for a higher – and cheaper – level of connectivity).

If the ship is close to the coastline, and has multiple port of call stops, you’ll typically be able to get a terrestrial signal from the nearest land cell phone tower – up to a mile from the coast. It’s highly unlikely that you will be connected with 3G speed signals, as evidenced in my previous blog, you will need to have a low-wave 3G frequency like 800 or 900 Mhz – frequencies not typically associated with phones manufactured for North American consumers. So what can be done? You can rent an international cell phone that works in port, and a short way out to sea. If you really must stay connected on your boat, get in touch with your cruise travel agency and request information about the on-board cell phone rates and subscription fees

So, using mobile phones on a cruise is both difficult and supremely costly, but arranging a meeting time is also likely to cause more than a few headaches. two way radios have their problems, but may in fact be the best way to keep in contact, depending, of course, on how important a factor this is for you.

The size of modern cruise ships are such that they are usually measured against small cities, this means that communications are even more important than before. Experts in two way radio communication are2wayradionline.co.uk

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What is PMR Radio and Who Uses Them?

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A two way radio is basically a radio that is structured to transmit and receive. In general, most voice-wireless communications technology, counting cellular systems, are categorized by 2 way radio definition. Usually, a 2-way radio refers to a radio system primarily utilized for group call communications. This 2 way system is also called PAMR Public Access-Mobile Radio, PMR Private-Mobile Radio, LMR Land-Mobile Raido, and PMR Professional-Mobile Radio.

Portable 2-way radios are frequently called “walkie-talkies” or “handie-talkies.” Not much different from “handie,” the term sometimes used to describe mobile phones. While we’re on the subject, it’s probably best to get something out in the open right now. People often interchange the terms two way radio and walkie-talkie.

However, walkie-talkie is chiefly a generic or slang-term for hand portable 2-way radios. Moreover, the term usually implies non-professional, license free, consumer type, or “toy” equipment. When referring to two way radios, people are basically talking about professional licensed equipment. A walkie-talkie is generallya hand-held PMR radio. A 2-way radio is of superior quality and utilizes much higher frequencies. 2 way radios can also be found in mobile and base-configurations in addition to using radio network-infrastructure.

In addition, 2 way radios are usually decked out with a PTT or “Push-to-Talk” key to trigger the transmitter. Users simply press the PTT key and quickly begin a conversation. The user lets go of the PTT key in order to hear others.

A two way radio user can talk immediately with other radio users or utilize radio network-infrastructure. A direct-talk amongst radios, normally referred to as direct more operation/talk-around mode, has restricted reach because of limited radio power. To defeat this restriction, a radio network-infrastructure can be used to expand the communication range.

WHY USE A 2-WAY RADIO?

With numerous choices in wireless technology today and with 2-way radios being one of the first wireless devices, some wonder if this type of radio is still a useful gadget in the current world of technological communication. Well actually yes. There are two main features that differentiates two way radios from other wireless gadgets:

-Instantaneous Communication

2 way radios offer instant communication. Users can simply press the PTT or “Push-To-Talk” key and inside a fraction of a second, the user can instantly speak and convey their message. This is because of the quick-call setup time entrenched in the technology. This quick communication possibility is one of the main reasons why businesses and organizations prefer two way radios for their operational or tactical communications.

-Group Communication

An additional unique feature of 2-way radios is its ability to facilitate “group-calls” or “one-to-many” communications very effectively. This means that one user can easily communicate with one, five, twenty, hundreds, or even thousands of other 2-way radio users simultaneously.

In other words, there’s no need for users to repeat themselves time and again if they need to communicate with more than one user. Moreover, 2-way radios performs perfectly for group communication using a minimal amount of RF channel-resources. If every user were in the same vicinity the majority of the time, they would only need one-channel resources to speak to hundreds of other users.

WHY NOT SIMPLY USE ANY WIRELESS-SYSTEM?

There is an abundance of wireless-technology today, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice of which technology is idea for one’s group or association will depend upon if the technology can satisfy the user’s requirements. For users who need to function in a group, communicate instantly, and remain mobile, a 2 way radio is the best choice compared to the other wireless technology available on the market today.

You may still wonder how this can be possible with smartphones, iPods, iPhones, tablets, mobile phones available. Here are the main reasons why these technological gadgets may NOT meet the above requirements:

-Instant Communication

Consider this scenario. You are out hiking, run into an emergency situation, and must communicate quickly to confirm your dilemma. If you were using a mobile phone, for instance, you must dial a number, wait while the call is being setup and connected; that’s if you get a signal. The phone must then ring to the other person, and they finally answer, if their voicemail isn’t on! The whole procedure could take several seconds and within that valuable time, your situation could easily worsen.

With a 2-way radio, you simply press the PTT key and yell “emergency” while the other users “immediately” pick-up your signal. This is assuming that RF-channel is accessible. However, there is a way that 2 way radios features can surmount RF-channel blockage and give highest-priority to emergency calls, a feature not available to other wireless devices.

-Group Communication

Take this example. You need to let your staff know that there has been some changes for a planned meeting. If you have to contact them one at a time, it could become tedious. With a two way radio, you can simply select your talk-group, press the PTT key, and begin your message to five, 10, 15, or however many staff members you need to communicate with simultaneously. Now, raise that number to 1000 workers and imagine the work involved if you had to go through cellular phone channels.

Though some wireless systems permit group calls, it usually restricts the amount of group members that you can communicate with at one time. With a 2-way radio, you simply need to speak once and be heard by many.

WHO USES 2-WAY RADIOS?

two way radios have been utilized for many years by numerous industries and associations. Because of the nature of their operational requirements, they use 2-way radios to broadcast their operational and communicational needs. Organizations and industries that may depend on two way radio usage are:

-Public Safety associations such as EMS emergency medical services, police, ambulance service, fire brigade, disaster-recovery agency

-Security like intelligence agencies and military

-Transportation industries like subway, railways, seaports, airports, subways

-Oil and gas companies

-Utility companies like cable TV, telephone, water, gas, electricity

-Construction companies for road and bridges, residential, commercial

-Transport service companies like trucks, limos, taxis

-Hospitality industries like tourism, restaurant, resort, and hotel

-Service industry such as towing and delivery companies

-Government agencies like public works, embassies, municipal, district governments, and ministries

-Manufacturing

-Contractors for roofing, plumbing, excavating, electrical

-And many more…

Overall, those who utilize two way radios are frequently businesses or agencies with many staff members or workers who work in groups and are mobile.

2 WAY RADIOS TODAY

Today, 2 way radios come with additional or improved features from years before. For example, display screens show important information at a quick glance, keypads lock to maintain channel settings, there are various ring-tones and silencers to choose from along with out of range alerts, and much more!

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Here Are More AM Suggestion

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The supplier of this article post is here – this website

I thought you should know that the FCC has just licensed a digital TV station with an ancillary service in the form of an analog FM radio station. This new service can create thousands of powerful FM radio stations, which can be leased to current AM radio stations now struggling with broadcast difficulties.

Recent studies have shown that the 0.62 MHz now unused by DTV stations can be efficiently employed for other services, with no interference to or from either the DTV reception or, for example, FM radio reception. No new spectrum, or change in current spectrum use, is required. FM receivers, which can receive all VHF and UHF TV stations’ analog audio, were readily available since the 1980s from many manufacturers, and could easily be again.

The first DTV station licensed to broadcast this added analog FM is W26DC-D in New York. No interference of any kind has been observed. It uses the upper 200 kHz of the digital channel for monaural analog FM, and is well received by the older FM radios mentioned above. (Stereo FM analog, and digital radio, could also be broadcast.)

The FCC had previously shown concern that this added ancillary service might adversely affect new cochannels, but this has been disproved for the specific conditions employed.

This extended use of DTV spectrum could solve the problems of current AM radio stations by allowing them all to migrate to this new FM band, with no need to disturb any existing service. All that is needed is an FM transmitter output injected into the antenna line of a full- or low-power digital television station.

I hope advantage can be taken by the radio and television industry of this novel spectrum use.

Richard D. Bogner

Retired, Former President and Owner

Island Broadcasting Co.

Roslyn, N.Y.

ENFORCE THE RULES

As a major player in the world of AM radio and as one who is vested deeply, I am continually amazed at people who are not invested trying to tell us how to live.

AM radio in itself needs no improvement!! It works just fine. The problem is simple: The FCC has dropped the ball and fails to recognize the problem is the environment surrounding it. It is man-made interference that has caused the problem, and if the commission had enforced the incidental radiation rules, we would not be compromised as we are today.

All these hearings and meetings always attack the AM spectrum itself. It is just plain wrong! Enforce the rules and make sure radio manufacturers build good radios.

I listen to AM with my Icom Ham Radio with its digital noise blanker and love every moment of it.

Tom King’s article (“King Lays Out ‘Critical Steps’”) in the Sept. 24 Radio World was right on — except for C-Quam, which was a disaster.

Just because the inventor of the best stereo for AM was a eccentric old man and didn’t have a ton of money to spread around in the propaganda war The Commission selected C Quam. They said it was in the public interest… The Washington bureaucrats wouldn’t know public interest if it hit them in the backside. Face it — AM broadcasters, we have been screwed by the government. Maybe if some of these high-test consultants would get their heads out of their backsides we could salvage AM.

God bless you, Mr. King, but the Kahn system rules.

Ed De La Hunt

Owner

De La Hunt Broadcasting

Kelliher, Minn.

LATE TO THE PARTY

The problem with NextRadio and iHeartRadio (“Coleman Says Demand ‘Strong’ for NextRadio,” radioworld.com, Aug. 1) is that they are a few years too late to the party.

All of the college kids I know (and I work for a college radio station) use the free app from TuneIn Radio.     If you’re not on represented on TuneIn, you’re not really streaming anyway.

Students don’t like to have a separate app for every station they listen to. That just causes clutter on their device … and TuneIn even has some AM stations represented.

Bart Jones

Chief Engineer

KFKX(FM)

Hastings College

Hastings, Neb.

http://www.radioworld.com/article/here-are-more-am-suggestions/273542

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We Have A Look Under The Bonnet Of The Icom IC-F4029SDR

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With very little information on the internet about Radio’s, it is very rare when we get a chance to re post, with permission, an article from this industry.

Professional Digital Licence Free Transceiver

The IC-F4029SDR professional digital licence-free transceiver utilises the latest 6.25kHz ultra narrow digital voice technologies, providing digital clarity, razor sharp signalling performance and a level of secrecy from less congested dedicated digital PMR channels.

The IC-F4029SDR was recently featured on Channel 5’s “The Gadget Show” winning a comparison test against another leading manufacturer.

DIGITAL PMR 446 FEATURES

The IC-4029SDR utilizes 4FSK/FDMA modulation and 6.25kHz digital narrow channel spacing, which is half the channel spacing of the existing analogue PMR 446 system. This way, the 100kHz band width allocated for digital PMR 446 is efficiently divided into 16 channels, or twice the current analogue voice channel capacity making this product incredibly spectrum efficient.

A Path from analogue PMR 446 to digital PMR 446 in one unit

By changing the channel setting, the IC-F4029SDR can be used on existing analogue PMR 446 channels. This provides users with an upgrade path from analogue PMR 446 to digital PMR 446 in one unit. Being analogue/digital compatible, any businesses or private users currently using analogue PMR446 can begin replacing their analogue radios with IC-F4029SDR and enjoy digital quality as well as relief from congested spectrum.

32-status messages

32 codes of prefixed status messages can be sent and received. 16-character messages and 6 types of alert beeps sound that for call reception, are programmable for each message.

“Common ID” group code

This function is similar to an analogue CTCSS/DTCS code. By setting 1–254 common ID codes, the IC-F4029SDR opens its squelch only when a matched code is received. It provides quiet stand-by and group call functions while sharing a channel with several groups. The code “255” is the fixed code for an all stations call.

Security of digital voice

‘Eavesdropping’ by current scanner receivers is impossible at this stage. Since there are no other competing radios, initial users will have a high level of security in digital voice communication mode.

Additional Digital Features

Group call functions (up to 254 digital codes available)

Programmable 32 status message of up to 16 characters each can be sent to individual or group member radios when in digital mode. This is configurable by a PC

In addition to Icom default channel settings, other channel zones are preprogrammed to have matched settings with Kenwood and Motorola PMR446 models currently on the market. These radios can be sold to match Motorola/Kenwood current analogue configuration reducing the necessity to reprogram radios for customer’s fleets consisting of non- Icom radios.

ANALOGUE PMR 446 FEATURES

“Smart-Ring” and “Ringer” function

The “Smart-Ring” function checks the availability of your group members within the operating range. The “Ringer” function is used for manually sending a ring tone instead of a voice call. 16 types of ringing tones are available.

Tone find function

The tone find function allows you to find a tone used in a channel to decode a tone.

Built-in CTCSS/DTCS

50 CTCSS tones and 84 DTCS tones provide quiet stand-by. DTCS inverse mode is also programmable.

Lithium-Ion battery pack and rapid charger as standard

The IC-F4029SDR series shares Lithium-Ion battery packs with the IC-F3062, IC-F3022, IC-F34G and IC-F15 series. The IC-F4029SDR series is supplied with the BP-231 1150mAh li-Ion battery pack (provides 9 hours* of operating time) and BC-160 desktop rapid charger as standard. An optional BP-232 larger capacity battery pack and BP-230 economical battery packs are also available. Lithium-Ion batteries provide larger capacity and a longer operating time than a Ni-Cd or Ni-MH battery pack and allow flexible charging without memory effect.

Small and lightweight body

The IC-F4029SDR has a fixed type antenna and weighs just 280g (including BP-231). It measures only 53 x 195 x 32.5mm including the antenna. The aluminium die-cast chassis and polycarbonate casing combination is designed for durability. A rugged dual-rail guide chassis securely locks the battery to the back of the radio.

Alphanumeric LCD

The IC-F4029SDR incorporates an 8-character 14 segment alphanumeric LCD. An automatic LCD backlight is employed for night-time operation.

IC-F4029SDR Additional Features

Shares the same battery packs and accessories as the IC-F15/F34 series

Power on password

2-step Power save function

A first in the market, professional digital licence free radio

A Path from analogue PMR 446 to digital PMR 446 in one unit

Fantastic audio quality

Useful communication tool for light commercial users (initial users can benefit from security of digital voice)

Compact, lightweight body

High capacity lithium-Ion battery pack and rapid charger as standard

8-character alphanumeric display

32-status messages for digital PMR 446

“Common ID” group code

Existing analogue PMR 446 channels available with CTCSS/DTCS tones

Optional headset provides hands-free operation

2 year warranty on transceiver, 1 year warranty on accessories.

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Have You Ever Thought How Do 2 way radios work?

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To put it simply, a two-way radio is a device that can both receive and transmit voice messages. In broader terms, it can be said that most wireless communication, and it may include cellular systems, fall under the definition. However, these days, two-way radio is a term to describe radio system for group call communication. The two-way radio comes in several technical names such as Public Access Mobile Radio, Private Mobile Radio, Land Mobile Radio and Professional Mobile Radio. These present times, two-way radios are often called “walkie talkies”. There are several kinds of two-way radio systems and some are able to make use of base and mobile configuration, while some re able to utilize a radio network infrastructure.

A typical two-way radio includes a PTT button, also known as Push-To-Talk button. The button activates the transmitter and the user simply needs to talk to the device to start communicating. The user must release the PTT button in order to receive transmissions from the other line.

A two-way radio is able to communicate with other radio devices. However, direct radio communication has very limited range. To overcome the problem, a radio network infrastructure may be used to extend the range of communications. The rest of the article is going to cover more details about how 2 way radios work and other useful information.

Receiving Radio Waves

Just like other forms of Wireless communications, a two-way radio sends messages over the air. In order to achieve this, the antenna of a way radio contains a specific set of electrons. If the two-way radio features multiple channels, then there is specific sets of electrons are each channel. Whenever a radio transmission is received by the two-way radio, the electrons get excited. The electrons then create electrical impulses. Electrical impulses are then sent to a small processor, which will then convert the electrical impulses to words and sounds that can be understood by humans. The sounds are produced by the speakers within that two way radio.

Keep in mind that there are always radio waves are floating in the air. Because of it, there is always a nondescript sound that may be produced by the two-way radios. To solve the issue, a lot of two-way radios feature a “squelch” setting; and with it, the user can adjust the signal threshold for clearer communications.

Sending Transmissions

Two-way radios can also send messages across the air. The main idea is to convert the sound to radio waves. However, the defining characteristic about the way radio is its ability the convert back the radio waves back to legible sounds.

Whenever a user speaks into a two-way radio, a membrane within the device will vibrate as a response to the sounds. The vibrations are sent to the processor, which in turn converts them to electrical impulses and readies it for transmission.. Finally, the transmission is sent to the antenna which is then broadcasted in the form of radio waves. These radio waves are then received by another device and convert them back to a legible sound.

Multiple Channels

As two-way radios are getting more and more popular, it is possible for more than one party communicating in the same line or frequency. This can cause a lot of confusion and interference. To solve the problem, modern two-way radios are able to utilize multiple channels.

For a two-way radio to broadcast on multiple channels, the device must be able to generate radio waves in multiple frequencies. Furthermore, the device must be able to send frequencies with very little fluctuations. These fluctuations are actually caused by the transmitted voices. The fluctuations can be minimized through “frequency modulation”. The modulated transmissions are then sent to the device’s antenna.

The device must also excite the proper electrons. Once the proper electrons are excited, an outgoing radio wave is then produced.

These radio waves may be picked up by another device tuning into the same frequency. Furthermore, the device must be within range of the transmitting device. The range of two-way radio is usually determined by a couple of factors such as atmospheric conditions, radio’s battery power and the size of the two-radio’s antenna.

Whenever a device picks up the transmission, the receiving radio must filter the signals through an electronic filter known as a bandpass filter. Finally, the transmission is then converted back to sound.

Why Choose A Two Way Radio

The two-way radio is one of the earliest forms of wireless communication. However, in today’s modernized communication environment, a question arises – is the way radio a viable technology? The answer to that question is a yes. This is because the two-way radio has its own unique advantages that may not be found in other forms of wireless communications. Below are two of them:

Instant Communication – the ability to communicate between two or more parties almost instantly is one of the most defining advantages of the two-way radio. A user only needs to press the “Push-To-Talk” button and within seconds a receiver will be able to receive the audio messages. Furthermore, the entire system is set up around the idea of “quick call” and “quick receive”. This is the main reason why the organizations rely on the two-way radio technology for operational and tactical communications. The system can also make use of encryption technology for a more secure communication.

Group Communications

Another unique advantage of two-way radio is its ability to facilitate “group call” or “one-to-many” communications very efficiently. By efficient, it means that the user can communicate with one, hundreds or thousands at the same time. There is no need for a user to repeat the same message if he/she needs to communicate to more than one individual.

A two-way radio is one of the earliest technologies used for wireless communications. Even though it is a bit outdated compared to other forms of wireless communications, but the usefulness is still very applicable today. The main idea of how 2 way radios work revolves around on sending and receiving radio waves, which in turn is converted to legible sounds. The idea and technology behind two-way radio may be simple, but nevertheless it is still a very well-used form of communication in today’s world.

2 way radio

What You Could Be Missing Out On When You Don’t Look At The Icom IC-F27SR

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You might be safe in the knowledge that I bring the best Walkie talkie articles, some of which are my own several of them are curated by me, if i choose to use somebody elses content it’s because it is important to my readership, so feel confident that you simply are reading the very best from my industry.

Professional PMR446 Licence Free Two Way Radio

The IC-F27SR professional Licence Free Two Way Radio is the successor to the best selling IC-F25SR and retains the simplicity, functionality and build that made the original so popular. However, there have been some big improvements including a smaller and lighter body, 800mW loud and intelligible audio, built-in VOX function and several new scanning and security features. To top it off, the IC-F27SR includes highly efficient circuitry that provides up to a massive 35.5 hours of operating time with the supplied BP-265 2000mAh Lithium-Ion battery pack.

High performance, Professional Licence Free Radio 
Outstanding audio quality, high performance and strong commercial build make the IC-F27SR the ideal licence free radio. This licence free radio is ideal for users in diverse areas such as construction, catering, event management, shopping centres, factories, farms as well as serious outdoor enthusiasts.

Up to 35.5 hours of operating time
The IC-F27SR features highly efficient circuitry, providing up to a massive 35.5 hours of operating time* with the supplied BP-265 2000mAh lithium-ion battery pack. This means it can be comfortably last an entire shift.
* Tx: Rx: Stand-by =5: 5: 90 with power save ON. 24.8 hours with BP-264

Outstanding audio quality 
800mW audio output is provided from the large 45mm speaker meaning the IC-F27SR can deliver loud and intelligible audio even in extremely noisy environments such as a busy shop floor or construction site.

Just three main controls
Transmit button, volume control and channel selector. This simple to use radio is ideal for high turnover environments and shift work where the radio is constantly passed from person to person.

Lightweight, Compact Body
Small size (58×186×36.5mm) and lightweight (285g) makes this transceiver ideal for all users.

Commercial grade construction
The IC-F27SR is extremely rugged. It has been tested to 11 categories of environmental and military standards for dust protection and water resistance making it suited to outdoor use.

Internal VOX for Hands-free operation
Built-in VOX function provides convenient hands-free operation, when used with our optional headset adapter cable.

500mW output power 
Provides wider communication coverage.

Other features 
• CTCSS and DTCS encoder and decoder for group call
• Surveillance function turns off the LED and beep sound
• Siren function can be used for security alarm
• Power save function
• Low battery alert
• Time out timer
• Monitor function

  • High performance, Professional Licence Free Radio
  • Up to 35.5 hours of operating time with BP-265 Li-ion battery pack *Typical operation with power save on. TX:RX:Stand-by=5:5:90
  • Outstanding audio quality
  • Simple to operate, just three main controls
  • Lightweight, compact body
  • Internal VOX for hands-free operation (Optional headset and adapter cable required)
  • IP54 and MIL-STD-810 ruggedness
  • CTCSS and DTCS tone squelch for group call
  • Same accessories as “F3002/F4002” series handhelds
  • 2 year warranty on transceiver, 1 year warranty on accessories
2 way radio

Motorola Solutions Adds RFID-Enabled Knobs to Radios

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What’s your favorite feature of my Walkie talkie? Personally, I like the design job – It is cooler than an Inuit’s underpants!

The volume knob, which can be retrofitted into the company’s Mototrbo two-way radios, enables users to conduct inventory counts of 50 radios in six seconds, instead of four minutes.

Two of Motorola Solutions‘ business divisions combined forces this year to develop an RFID-based solution known as RFID Fleet Management, for managing the locations of its Mototrbo two-way radios. The system features a volume-control knob with a built-in RFID tag, enabling users to locate radios more efficiently than having to manually search through several models, reading serial numbers or scanning bar codes. The solution also includes Motorola EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHFRFID readers. Software to manage read data, as well as training, support and service, are being provided by Motorola’s reseller and solution-provider partners. Beginning at the end of this month, the new knobs will be shipped to customers, upon request, as a retrofit for their existing radios.

Motorola Solutions sells its Mototrbo two-way radios to customers, such as product manufacturers, and other companies with mobile personnel. Motorola Solutions’ Mototrbo customers include organizations that rent the radios to the end users. Both types of companies can have inventories of hundreds or thousands of radios, which must be accounted for periodically—at the end of each day, weekly or monthly, for example—to confirm that the radios have not gone missing, and that every user returns the correct units. Without RFID, each radio assigned or rented out must have its bar code scanned or its serial number recorded in order to create a record of which radio was provided to which employee or company, and when this occurred.

With the RFID Fleet Management solution, the radio’s original volume control knob (left) is replaced with an RFID-tagged version (right).

According to Carrie Angelico, Motorola Solutions’ senior channel business development manager for data-capture solutions, Mototrbo users told Motorola how exhaustive the inventory-management process could be, and the company’s radio division began discussing a solution with its own RFID division. The result is a volume-control knob containing a Motorola UHF RFID Custom Tag, made with an Omni-ID tag, encoded with a unique ID number that can be associated with the radio’s own serial number in the user’s software.

The solution is designed to be a retrofit option for those with Mototrbo two-way radios. Users first acquire the RFID-enabled knob as a replacement for the existing volume knob. The knob’s built-in RFID tag can then be read via any of Motorola Solutions’ handheld or fixed readers, including a desktop interrogator that could be used for checking radios into and out of a storage area.

– See more at: http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?11706#sthash.xhADvZzf.dpuf