Faced with a tech tsunami, Motorola fights to preserve cop‑com franchise

As Chicago cops braced for protests in advance of the NATO and G-8 summits in 2012, hometown radio giant Motorola made what seemed like a grand gesture.

JOHN FITZHUGH / SUN HERALDMississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Calvin Robertson, MSWIN land mobile radio system at MHP Troop K headquarters on Wednesday Dec. 11, 2013.

The company, which for years has used tenacious marketing and clout to reign over the emergency radio business, donated to the city $1.8 million worth of telecom equipment that could beam data and videos to law enforcement officers shielding the world leaders.

Generosity wasn’t the only motive behind the gift.

In a letter, Motorola Vice President John Molloy said the company also could operate a network for the city as a “test platform” until year end and provide Chicago’s public safety agencies entree to the world of emergency broadband LTE – the new global standard for transmitting huge amounts of data at rocket speed.

Motorola’s gift was designed to keep on giving.

From Mississippi to Texas and California, the company now known as Motorola Solutions Inc. has reshaped its business strategy in the face of a technology tsunami that threatens to upend its decades-long hold on the emergency communications market.

While fighting to preserve its immense walkie-talkie franchise, Motorola has maneuvered to become a player in broadband, where it must contend with new and bigger competitors in a scrum for billions of dollars of taxpayer funds pledged for a coast-to-coast emergency data delivery network.DROPPED JAWS, PROTESTS OVER

Motorola’s aggressive push into broadband, however, is a cause for consternation among officials of the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, the Commerce Department agency tasked with building the first nationwide public-safety communications system. To garner broadband business, Motorola has relied on many of the same strategies and deep customer relationships that helped it capture more than 80 percent of the radio market.

As McClatchy reported in a series of articles last year, the industry giant has landed scores of sole-source radio contracts and wielded enough pricing power to sell its glitzy handsets for as much as $7,000 apiece, at a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars that could have been saved in a more competitive market.

At the request of three senior Democrats in the House of Representatives, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, John Roth, recently ordered an audit to examine McClatchy’s disclosures and determine whether federal grant money has bankrolled biased contract awards to Motorola.

The new broadband network, backed so far by a whopping $7 billion federal commitment, is expected to spawn a competitive market involving names such as ATT, Verizon, Cisco, General Dynamics and Alcatel-Lucent.

How 4G broadband LTE (Long-Term Evolution) works

4G stands for the fourth generation of broadband, the same technology that beams data to your cell phone. It effectively works as a high-speed radio signal that relays tiny packets of data between the internet and base stations on cellular towers outfitted with antenna equipment and microwave dishes.

The cellular towers flash the data to first responders’ handsets or perhaps to a mobile unit mounted in a police car’s dashboard.

4G LTE can save lives: It can deliver images of suspects within seconds, where previously it could take 10 minutes or more, as well as offering live streaming of disaster or crime scenes.

While people around the world use 4G technology to make cell phone calls, because calls are frequently interrupted, it has not yet been deemed ready to produce voice communications reliable enough for public-safety agencies. The current public-safety standard requires that the connections operate reliably 99.999 percent of the time – or all but about five minutes per year.

What threatens Motorola is the possibility that technology advances could within a few years enable ruggedized cellphones to transmit voice communications as reliably as two-way radios, a development that eventually could crumble the company’s radio franchise, which serves thousands of public safety agencies.

One Motorola tactic for penetrating the new market has been to donate equipment, as the company did in Chicago.

It’s a way to “lock in future relationships and future opportunities,” said Steve Koman, a former Motorola employee who was a consultant to the city of Charlotte, N.C., when it sought unsuccessfully to build a broadband network a couple of years ago. Koman said he finds such equipment donations by a market kingpin to be troubling.

“I’ve always wondered if these kinds of gray-zone practices violate the spirit of federal antitrust laws,” he said, “because they appear to be a continuous attempt to corner the market.”

A Motorola executive vice president, Robert Schassler, contended in a phone interview that many companies routinely invite government agencies to join them in testing new products.

The 2012 donation of a mini-broadband network wasn’t Motorola’s first gift to Chicago, which has been buying the company’s radios since 1956.

In 2009, the company gave the city a mobile radio network to help protect members of the International Olympic Committee coming to town to weigh Chicago’s bid to host a future Olympics.

Motorola’s philanthropy was rewarded later with a $1.5 million no-bid contract from Cook County to use the donated equipment to build a “high-performance” data network for the city and county – a system that was doomed from the start because its radio bandwidth was too narrow to transmit data at high speeds, said Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff’s office. The county now plans to swap the equipment for new Motorola radios, she said.

As for the broadband LTE (for Long Term Evolution) equipment donated for the summits, the city has obtained a temporary license to build a test network but is still mulling what to do, said Melissa Stratton, a spokeswoman for Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Charlotte also was a recipient of Motorola’s largesse before hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Motorola loaned the city about 3,000 radios free of charge to assist state and federal law enforcement officials in communicating with one another.

Such gestures, which are not always trumpeted publicly, typically grow from carefully cultivated relationships that have helped Motorola steamroller competitors for nearly 20 years in the multibillion-dollar radio business.

I’ve always wondered if these kinds of gray-zone practices violate the spirit of federal antitrust laws.

The company’s formula: build top-quality equipment; dote on police, fire and sheriff’s departments; woo contracting officials; pursue every angle to gain a sole-source deal or an inside track, and where possible, embed equipment with proprietary features so it can’t interact with competitors’ products.

It’s worked so well that a single company – Motorola – has dominated state and federal two-way radio markets, untouched by federal antitrust regulators although there’s been little price testing to assure that taxpayers got the best deal.

Motorola executives make no apologies for their market supremacy.

“Motorola Solutions’ public safety success is because we offer the best solutions and service at competitive prices, because our customers trust in our products and commitment to stand behind them, and because of our continued investment in innovation,” said the company’s chief spokesman, Kurt Ebenhoch.

Motorola’s Schassler said the company that pioneered the first police radio in 1930 is the only manufacturer that has stood behind cops, firefighters and emergency medics “uninterrupted” for 85 years.

…our customers trust in our products and commitment to stand behind them…

That commitment has engendered strong loyalties from the nation’s more than 4 million first responders, legions of whom insist on toting a Motorola as their communication lifeline.

But to rivals and frustrated government officials, Motorola is the industry’s version of “Leave it to Beaver’s” unctuous Eddie Haskell (“You look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver”), whose charms are but a cover for myriad connivances. Using an array of tactics, the company repeatedly has found ways to stick taxpayers with the priciest equipment when far cheaper options performed to the same standards.

Schassler was asked whether Motorola sales representatives propose ways for government officials to award sole-source contracts.

“No,” he replied.

State and local government officials have done the dirty work, frequently skirting laws or federal grant guidelines requiring competitive bidding.

Motorola officials acknowledged that the company’s seemingly ubiquitous sales force has wined and dined some government officials where state laws allow, but Schassler called that “a very, very rare occurrence” that is first approved by a company attorney.

However, two government officials who lacked authorization to speak for the record said the company has hosted state or local contracting employees in some of Las Vegas’ priciest restaurants .

Despite its scant experience in broadband, Motorola has been fastest out of the gate in applying the technology to public safety. In 2010, the company entered an eight-year partnership with the Swedish colossus Ericsson, a leading supplier of broadband equipment, especially the cores that serve as the brains for each network. Motorola also has partnered with cellular industry giant Verizon Wireless, and it has developed a handset that can both receive broadband data and enable voice transmissions over a standard two-way radio network.

The Schaumburg, Ill.-based firm has secured contracts to assemble four of eight federally funded emergency broadband pilot projects – in Los Angeles County, Harris County, Texas, the San Francisco Bay Area and Mississippi, though the latter two later collapsed because of negotiation impasses for leases of frequencies on the federal wireless spectrum. Motorola also is among five vendors approved to sell equipment for New Mexico’s statewide pilot project.

The company’s early success in the pilot projects has been controversial:

  • An official of Harris County, Texas, sent gasps through a hotel conference room in May 2011 when he said he handed Motorola the $7.5 million first stage of a pilot broadband network because the company told him “a great story,” according to two people who were present. Both insisted upon anonymity for fear of reprisals. The award in the county surrounding Houston drew protests from two major competitors because they weren’t invited to bid, even though most of the financing came from a Department of Homeland Security port security grant. Motorola and county officials contended the contract was competitively awarded, because it was written as a modification to a 2007 radio contract for which Motorola won the bidding.
  • In San Francisco, Motorola won a $50.6 million Commerce Department grant in 2010 to build the first metropolitan-wide emergency broadband network – a deal arranged by former Motorola sales executive Laura Phillips in her new job overseeing public safety grants to the region. Phillips was later fired amid outrage that the grant was awarded without approval from any of three major cities and 10 counties involved, said several current and former government officials who spoke anonymously because of the matter’s sensitivity. Phillips pointed to a Commerce Department audit that cleared her of improprieties.
  • Former San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore said he implored Motorola’s No. 2 executive, Mark Moon, to wait until a regional board approved the grant to avoid city and county protests. He said Moon responded: “I’d rather take the $50 million and bad publicity than not get the $50 million.” Motorola spokesman Ebenhoch said Moon doesn’t recall making such a remark and “strongly believes the statement to be inaccurate and false.”
  • While a joint authority representing Los Angeles County and more than 80 cities reviewed bids in 2011 for twin public-safety radio and broadband networks, Motorola added William Bratton, a former Los Angeles police chief and currently the New York police commissioner , to a lucrative post on its corporate board. A team led by Raytheon Corp. won the bidding, but Motorola threatened a suit, and a county lawyer urged nullifying the award because it might violate an arcane state law. During two more rounds of bidding, Motorola slashed its prices and ultimately won both contracts, worth a half-billion dollars.

FirstNet officials did not respond to requests for comment about Motorola’s dealings.

JOHN FITZHUGH / SUN HERALDMSWIN land mobile radio system at MHP Troop K headquarters on Wednesday Dec. 11, 2013.

Some members of Congress, including Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, have said a major reason they voted for a 2012 law allotting a bloc of the spectrum for public safety and financing a national broadband network was their hopes it would smash Motorola’s near monopoly in two-way radios.

Yet some say that Motorola is fighting for survival, especially if broadband handsets that sell for $500 to $1,000 can replace the pricey, more lucrative emergency radios. Already, spinoffs and layoffs have shrunk the company’s payroll from over 20,000 to 15,000 employees.

“The change that Motorola is getting hit with is no less substantial than what hit IBM or Kodak. It’s a technology wave,” said former Charlotte consultant Koman, referring to technology advances that overtook IBM Corp.’s mainframe computer franchise and Kodak’s film empire.

The company’s predicament “is actually life or death in this transition” because of its huge infrastructure, said a former senior Motorola executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid harming relationships.

If so, Motorola executives sure don’t seem panicked.

Schassler said he expects Motorola to accrue incremental gains from broadband projects while continuing to serve most of the nation’s 60,000 public-safety agencies with radio equipment for 10 years or more.

The reality is that Motorola, with tentacles reaching virtually every emergency agency in the country, may be miles ahead of the government in its planning.

Already, the Motorola-Ericsson combine has planted broadband network cores at Motorola’s Schaumburg headquarters, at Texas AM University to cover the Harris County system and in Los Angeles County.

New Mexico officials, whose network layout can easily be extended to the Mexican border, has requested permission to use the Texas core as part of its statewide broadband network. Because Motorola writes the software rules that determine what equipment can be used on that network, the company could be positioned to be the logical broadband provider for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency on the southern border.

To put that in context, if a Senate-passed immigration compromise became law, the number of border agents would soar over the next decade from 20,800 to 38,000, each needing a handset.

At a recent conference of financial analysts, Motorola CEO Gregory Brown sounded more eager than worried about broadband. He called the new emergency communications technology “the single best opportunity we have in front of us.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/static/features/Motorola/Index.html?brand=sta#storylink=cpy

Do 2 Way Radios Work on Cruise Ships?

Yes, two 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 two 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 2 way radio communication are 2wayradionline.co.uk

FIVE REASONS TO MIGRATE TO DIGITAL TWO-WAY RADIOS

In the beginning, there was analog technology, which uses frequency modulation (FM) to produce a continuous wave with the voice signal. An analog two-way radio works as both transmitter and receiver, with that continuous wave in between. Analog has been the primary technology platform since the initial development of wireless communications.

Analog radios have been used for business applications as far back as 1933.

  • Analog Advantages: The integration of such a simple system into a single computer

chip has dramatically reduced the cost of analog radios.

  • Analog Disadvantages: The analog radio system has many functional limitations, and

the technology has been around so long that the scope of possible innovations is virtually exhausted.

ALONG COMES DIGITAL

Digital two-way radios operate by encoding, transmitting, and decoding sound waves. The signal is represented by binary numbers—1s and 0s—that correspond with voltage values. Inside the radio, the vocoder—an analysis/synthesis system used to reproduce human speech—encodes the transmission. The radio sends the signal, and the vocoder on the receiving end decodes it.

In addition, the software in digital radios contains an algorithm that recognizes the difference between voice and background noise and cancels undesirable audio for clearer, cleaner sound quality. Digital two-way radios can also include software applications that integrate into existing computer networks and phone systems. As a result, digital radios can enable a multitude of additional functions, including GPS, text messaging, and other information sharing, communications, and operations programs and capabilities.

By proactively transitioning to digital radios now, your organization will enjoy greater benefits immediately, and your fleet is ready for the high-efficiency, app-driven innovations coming in the future.

FIVE REASONS TO GO DIGITAL

  • Improved Audio Quality • Enhanced Clarity throughout the Coverage Range
  • Greater Efficiency • Extended Battery Life • Applications that Add Functionality
  1. Improved Audio Quality: Digital technology reduces external background noises during

transmission, thereby making the digital technology platform ideal for situations such as

noisy manufacturing and processing plants, or outside in windy conditions.

  1. Enhanced Clarity throughout the Coverage

Range: While an analog radio is capable of producing a clear signal within its peak performance range, once the signal moves too far from the transmit point, the analog audio will slowly fade out until it is unrecognizable. By contrast, a digital signal stays much stronger and clearer to the limits of the coverage range.

  1. Greater Efficiency: Digital radios operate in

Dual-Capacity Direct Mode (DCDM), which means that radios can share the same channel by alternating time slots. These time slots move incredibly fast, and since they alternate, more simultaneous talking paths are possible on each channel with no degradation. Plus, key information such as unit ID, status buttons, and enhanced text messages can be embedded into a single digital radio channel. In many cases, migrating from analog to digital allows users to increase talk paths without a repeater.

  1. Extended Battery Life: Since digital radio transmitters are not constantly “on,” digital

radios generally have a significantly longer battery life than analog models. When events run all day, that can mean the difference between efficient communications for the full cycle or the headache of a number of dead batteries that need swapping out and recharging.

  1. Applications that Add Functionality: Software applications are available to optimize digital

platforms using integrated Internet Protocol (IP) networks. For example, some of the leading app providers for Motorola MOTOTRBO digital radios include:

TABLETmedia

NeoTerra Systems

Twisted Pair

TurboVUi

Teldio

MOVING TO DIGITAL

For those switching from analog to digital, there is good news: Digital platforms provide a migration path that allows for simultaneous use of digital and analog radios. Backward compatibility allows organizations to gradually replace analog devices with newer digital models without the added stress of shifting to a new system. Also, many analog radio accessories are compatible with digital devices.

THE MOTOROLA CP200 AND CP200d

The existing CP200 is one of the most popular two-way radios ever produced! So the question is: How can you improve on the Motorola CP200? The answer: By creating a version that leverages all the benefits digital delivers.

Introducing… the CP200d digital two-way radio, a new model that retains the same simplicity and durability that have made Motorola’s CP200 the industry standard for years. The new CP200d uses a nearly identical form factor with similar operation. Plus, this highly flexible digital model is backward compatible, so it uses the same chargers, batteries, and speaker-microphones.

Motorola is adding sensible options to your two-way radio fleet by offering the existing CP200 device in the CP200d digital-capable version that can be fully converted from analog to digital operation at a later date. That means you can use a phased migration approach by using your new CP200d as an analog device now, and then with a simple programming change, switch to digital at any time in the future. Or, you have the option to take out-of-the-box delivery of the CP200d as a digital device from the get-go.

THE TALE OF THE TRBO

MOTOTRBO is Motorola’s next-generation system of digital portable and mobile radios, repeaters, and accessories. Thanks to the advantages of digital technology, this professional line delivers advanced performance to increase capacity and productivity while integrating voice and data communications.

Versatile and powerful, MOTOTRBO combines the best of two-way radio functionality with the latest digital features that deliver ease of use and added performance to meet your communication needs from the field to the factory floor. With exceptional voice quality and long battery life, MOTOTRBO keeps your work teams connected when communication is a must.

http://www.bearcom.com/resource-library/BearComAnalogToDigitalMigrationGuide.pdf

Is it Worth Buying a Cheap Two Way Radio?

It depends on what you want to do with it. Two-way radio technology is actually fairly simple. The basic mechanics of a radio don’t really change much from unit to unit, or from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Some radios may have flashier features (which you can decide for yourself if you really need) and others might have extra functions, such as the ability to switch between analogue and digital, but, to a large extent, a two way radio is a two-way radio.

A few of the features advertised (and no doubt added to the overall price) will do you no good whatsoever. For example, a radio claiming to have a range of 25-30 miles is simply lying to you. The average radio has a range of between 1 and 2 miles. Some are a little stronger that this, most are not.

Some radios advertise being waterproof or water resistant (some even come with built-in weather warnings) and, if you’re planning on using the radio in more outdoor conditions, then this is definitely a plus and worth spending money on.

Now, as for the tech itself, your radio’s power output is an important factor, but if you are only having a bit of fun, you likely wouldn’t need to go over 0.5 watts (and thus end up applying to Ofcom for a radio license). Generally, FRS (Family Radio Service) radios are cheapest and they are fine for a bit of fun, but GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radios, although they cost a little extra, are worth it if you need to transmit a stronger signal over a longer distance.

Other features, such as a built-in LED torch, a stopwatch, built-in alarms and/or a fancy light-up screen are only worth spending out on if you have a use in mind for them. Otherwise, it might be cheaper to simply provide torches and stopwatches to your staff if they require them. That’s a judgment call.

An emergency button, however, is always a good idea. The same is true for a ‘privacy’ function, especially if you are using your radio in an area with lots of other radio signals bouncing about.

Finally, we come to the idea of brand name. Certain products (we could name a particular headphone brand endorsed by a certain rapper, but we won’t) are all about selling the ‘in thing’ with a flashy logo, a branded image, a HUGE markup and little else to offer the customer. Radios are not this way, if you buy a trusted brand (such as Motorola), you can be assured of getting a quality product. In this instance, spending a little more for an established name can definitely pay off.

Essentially, if you want a two-way radio for business use, then it is worth spending out that little extra. However, if you only want one for hobby use, then you can pick one from the lower end of the market and not worry too much about it. Extra features are what add to the price more than anything else and it is entirely up to you to decide if you need them or not.

BearCom Offers Guidance on a Clear Migration Path from Analog to Digital Two-Way Radios

BearCom, a nationwide provider of wireless communications equipment and solutions, today outlined the advantages that organizations achieve when they migrate from analog to digital communications.

Two-way radio users around the country are looking to harness the power of digital technology as they improve their communications capabilities, said Jerry Denham, BearCom President & CEO. When comparing analog and digital radios, each has their strengths, however there are clear benefits to migrate your radio fleet to digital.

On its website, BearCom offers a free downloadable guide, Five Reasons to Migrate to Digital Two-Way Radios. The benefits of going digital include:

  1. Improved audio quality

    2.    Enhanced clarity throughout the coverage range

    3.    Greater efficiency

    4.    Extended battery life

    5.    Applications that add functionality

The two-way radio market is clearly moving towards the digital platform, said Hugh Johnston, Product & Purchasing Manager at BearCom For example, the MOTOTRBO line from Motorola provides a range of digital radios that mirror the simplicity of analog. These radios can make the digital migration nearly seamless.

For typical commercial operations, BearCom suggests digital upgrade radios from Motorola Solutions, such as the CP200d, CM200d and CM300d. These models feature a similar look and feel to older analog counterparts with the added boost of digital technology.

The CP200d offers the ability to operate in both analog and digital modes, which makes it especially attractive to organizations in the process of transitioning to digital technology, Denham said. We think that audio clarity, flexibility, high-value and ease-of-use will make the CP200d a tremendous success.

Like the CP200d portable radio, the Motorola CM200d and CM300d mobile radios also offer the option to operate in digital or analog modes, so they fit seamlessly into an existing system, allowing users to migrate to digital at their own pace. Both the CM200d and CM300d radios are durable, easy-to-use and program and offer clear audio performance.

For added functionality, the feature-rich MOTOTRBO line of digital radios provides everything any professional user needs. Two of the most popular MOTOTRBO radios are the XPR3500 and the XPR7550.

Through December 31, 2014, Motorola is offering a rebate savings of $150 with the purchase of six or more CP200d, CM200d, CM300d or XPR3500 models. Also ask about generous trade-in credits towards the XPR7550.

http://www.itbusinessnet.com/article/BearCom-Offers-Guidance-on-a-Clear-Migration-Path-from-Analog-to-Digital-Two-Way-Radios-3647742

Do All Walkie Talkies Work Together

Mobile technology has greatly improved over the past years. However, cell phones have some inadequacy at some point. They are reliably dependent on network coverage and tend to fail in areas with poor or limited coverage. On the other hand, walkie talkies beat them to this. Do all walkie talkies work together? This is a question being asked by many users or those planning to acquire such devices. To answer this question, one will have to understand how the device works. You have to know the basics involved in operating the device. They are wireless radios that can be easily carried around. One has to understand the technology and the modalities associated with the workings of the walkie talkies. This is the best way to answer the question.

These are battery powered transceivers (it can send and receive a radio message). They operate on half-duplex channels. This implies that one device, on a single channel can transmit one signal at a time though many devices will be able to receive that signal. The radios are primarily designed for short-range communication and transmit signals directly to each other.

All walkie talkies have similar basic components that include a microphone, speaker, antenna, battery and the PTT button. All these features combine to make communication successful. These devices are designed to operate on particular radio frequencies. The United States has designated different frequencies to meet users’ needs. The public are allowed to use the Family Radio Service (FRS) and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). The GMRS or FRS radios operate on the 460MHz range. The government has also set a side frequencies (the Business Band) that corporates can use (it ranges from 450 to 470MHz). Law enforcing agencies such as the police also have their own frequency so that there is no interference from public users. This is helps the agency to prevent their channels from overlapping with those of public users.

As already discussed above, the GMRS and FRS, frequencies are designated for public use. These channels overlap at particular frequencies even though radios that use such channels have several distinct differences.

The FRS radios have a fixed antenna. They are not quite powerful as their power is limited to about 0.5 watts. These features make their use limited to a small area. They are better suited to personal use as they only operate on the FRS bands.

The GMRS radios are more powerful and have a power of about 5 watts. They can also use repeaters to enhance their radio signals and thus boost their range.

There are many hybrid radios now that can be able to operate on both channels. However, only licensed operators are allowed to use the GMRS channel. This is because the GMRS walkie talkies are powerful enough to cause more interference.

Europe has restricted walkie talkies to PMR446 frequencies or those at just around 440MHz. It is illegal to use a radio operating on the PMR466 frequency on the GMRS or FRS channel. Therefore, if you are travelling from Europe to America, it is very important to make sure that your radio operates on the required frequency to avoid getting in trouble with the law.

From the discussion above, it is clear to see that their operation is restricted only by the frequency of the signal and not the brand. When one uses walkie talkies of the same brand, they are least likely to experience problems in signal transmission and reception as they are more similar in operation. However, this does not mean those using different brands will not communicate.

These radios are all about sending and receiving signals. Therefore, signals sent from one radio at a certain frequency can be received by another radio in that range.

What makes these gadgets stand out from cell phones is their simplicity. One does not need to dial any number to call, all you need to do is to push the PTT button when either reaching out to transmit or receiving a transmission. This applies regardless of the brand one has as they all have similar features as discussed earlier.

In conclusion, in more than one word, the evidence suggests that type of brand does not matter. Therefore, do all walkie talkies work together? Yes, they do.

Motorola Solutions and Safeer Integrated Systems Unveil the New TETRA Products & Solutions during the Motorola TETRA Roadshow

Article of the Day………ok so i haven’t got a piece of writing every day, but when i get a chance I’ll post articles that I find fascinating. Lucky enough here is one of these articles that I read and had to share. If you enjoy it as much as me, please add one of those special social media likes, you know the one that tells one and all you loved something, rather than you sat on your arse and watched Television!

Safeer Integrated Systems (SIS), UAE’s biggest and trusted name in the telecommunication industry and Motorola Solutions, market leaders providing telecommunication solutions, along with NEDAA Professional Communication Corporation , Dubai Network Operator Partner Professional Communication Corporation recently held the Motorola TETRA Solutions Roadshow at the prestigious Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai.

The roadshow showcased Motorola’s new TETRA Products & Solutions and elaborated on how it offers secure, reliable and efficient communications customized to meet the needs of all customers. The roadshow discussed in details the Motorola TETRA Radios & Accessories, third party applications for Motorola TETRA technology and the New Motorola TETRA releases.

Abdulla Al Falasi, Director Commercial Affairs, NEDAA stated “Motorola / Safeer Roadshow confirms the “Nedaa” uninterrupted endeavors to provide the latest to its valuable clients, a matter that indicates the keenness of the pioneer national Corporation to bring the latest global technologies to the UAE Market and to meet all the needs of its dealers by providing devices of high-value and quality, which are easy to use”.

SAFEER has been the solution integrator for Motorola Solutions for over twenty years. One of their most recent accomplishments is the installation of Motorola TETRA system at the biggest automated port in the world, such as DP World

Jihad Sulaiman, General Manager, Safeer Integrated Systems said “Recognizing the importance & strategic role of Nedaa as Professional Communication Corporation in providing one unified communication network, SAFEER Integrated Systems is proud of being a key contributor to Nedaa continuous endeavors in pursuit of excellence in the telecom industry”

Amer Achour, Sales Manager, Safeer Integrated Systems also added “UAE is no doubt one of the most competitive markets in the telecom industry; however we are confident that with our current strategies and partners we will ascend SAFEER to even a higher level”

Aside from the representatives of SAFEER, Motorola Solutions and NEDAA, the roadshow was attended by officials from Dubai Police, Dubai Airport, DEWA, Dubai Civil Defense, DP World, and Protocol Department typically use such products and solutions during their operations.

What is a Communications Engineering

Communications engineering is a disparate array of technological disciplines brought together under one all-encompassing banner. The disciplines considered to be part of a communication engineer’s skill set include telecommunications, mobile phone networks and Internet maintenance (but are by no means limited to those examples).

As we wrote earlier this month, any technology that aids in communication, from a walkie-talkie to a Skype account, is technically a communication technology; therefore, it also follows that anybody who works in these different areas can call him/herself a communications engineer.

The theory behind this move is that communications technology is becoming more streamlined and, to some extent, more homogenized (think of the ubiquity of mobile phones and social media) and so, it makes sense to bring communications technology together as a single subject as well.

As I type this, it is actually possible to get a Degree in Communications Engineering (as a single subject) from many universities worldwide. However, communications engineers frequently hold other Degrees such as electrical engineering, physics, telecommunications and/or computer science.

The sort of students that apply for courses like this (and subsequently work in the related areas) are generally logistically minded, tech-savvy people who are comfortable learning new skills and adapt quickly to new technology. Certainly, the money can be good for a decent engineer with a good reputation and an up-to-date skill set. Industries that rely on the expedient exchange of information (news networks, the stock exchange, big businesses and etc) should be the goal for the ambitious communications engineer (as well as the eager graduate).

Communications engineering is a vast and somewhat esoteric subject, because it combines so many different disciplines. Ideally, good communications engineers would be just as able to handle microwave engineering as they would a downed computer network, so it takes a smart cookie to be really good at the job.

Communications engineers are often quite business savvy as well. A big part of the job is dealing with clients or management, making presentations and working effectively as part of a team. Experience of modern business practice is not essential, but from the looks of things, it certainly helps.

The vast majority of communications engineers work for specific telecommunications companies and/or manufacturers, although some are self-employed as consultants or on fixed contracts.

According to Targetjobs.co.uk, typical job responsibilities for a communications engineer include: undertaking site surveys, agreeing to and staying within a client budget, staying up-to-date with technological information, problem solving (obviously!), creating test procedures, creating ‘worst case scenario’ plans for companies to follow and presenting companies/clients with the best way to manage their communication systems.

Have You Ever Thought How Do 2 way radios work?

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 tocommunicate 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.

Scottish Spaceport Plans Announced

Scotland is being considered as the site of the UK’s first-ever spaceport, which could be here as early as 2018, it was reported this week.

The spaceport would be the first one ever built outside of the US.

What’s more, Scotland are definitely the odds-on favourite to be granted this prestigious (not to mention historic) prize, as eight UK aerodromes have been short listed as possibilities and six of them are located in Scotland. 

It is thought that the spaceport would not only increase the country’s revenue by providing a site for satellite launches, but also through tourism, with ‘space tourism’ expected to increase in the next few decades.

Chief Secretary to The Treasury Danny Alexander (who was born in Edinborough), told BBC News, “I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018. Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel (…) Scotland has a proud association with space exploration. We celebrated Neil Armstrong’s Scottish ancestry when he became the first man on the Moon and only last week an amazing Scottish company was responsible for building the UK Space Agency’s first satellite (…) The UK space industry is one of our great success stories and I am sure there will be a role for Scotland to play in the future.”

UKube-1, a satellite designed and built by Glasgow-based firm Clyde Space, was launched earlier this week. It was the first ever spacecraft to be fully assembled in Scotland, but it may turn out to be the first of many.

According to the BBC, UK profits from the space industry are now exceeding £11bn a year and it provides employment for some 34,000 people. It is also a significant growth industry, with employment figures rising by 9% since 2011.

The recent interest in the development of UK-based, but more specifically Scottish, space exploration technologies has also become linked to the current debate over Scottish independence, with the Scottish government suggesting that a vote for independence on September 18th would only strengthen the space initiative.

A spokeswoman said, “Scotland is proving that it has the expertise to attract and support such a specialized, global industry, and as such an independent Scotland will be an attractive option for spaceport pioneers.”

However, it seems probable that the plans for a Scottish-based spaceport will go ahead either way, whether Scotland is declared an independent nation or not. In addition, doubts about the potential strength of an independent Scotland’s economy may also act to the detriment of its space research.

As with all things, time will tell…

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28276525