The first PMR Summit provided a timely occasion for the PMR industry to take stock of recent developments and look at some of the challenges facing the industry going forward.
The event was attended by over 300 visitors from 24 countries and featured a line-up of 52 speakers.
In the first morning session attendees got to hear the latest from public safety users and utilities, along with how TETRA is developing and how DMR is positioning itself. It also looked at the possibility of multi-technology PMR networks and included a panel session on how end users can best identify the right PMR solution for them. The second morning session considered spectrum, or more to the point, the lack of it, as well as how to get the best out of what is available.
The afternoon divided into two streams with PMR deployment scenarios on both days, while the other streams looked at the challenges of migrating to digital and mobile broadband and future applications.
The exhibition side of the event included 25 companies – Wireless caught up with a few of the exhibitors and speakers.
Tony Gray, regional business director with consultant P3 Communications, says: ‘The reason we and other people are here in something called PMR Summit is that this market is changing so much. PMR Summit provides a focus across the whole of communications, so we think it is a good opportunity to address the whole market.
‘Newer technologies, such as DMR and dPMR, are cheaper and more simplistic, but are nonetheless viable in many applications that are interesting people and they are taking more and more market share. I think the traditional TETRA market is coming to a refresh point in the not too distant future.’
Existing users are also facing a dilemma, according to Gray. They have to consider whether to refresh vanilla TETRA, look at TEDS or look at LTE or some other broadband technology. Other end users who are about to invest for the first time now have other technologies to chose from besides TETRA and TETRAPOL and are wondering what to do.
‘Globally, broadband is the next big thing,’ he continues, ‘but with the exception of the US everyone is asking: fine, but with what spectrum, with what technology and how do we pay for it?’
Gray expresses the general frustration being experienced throughout the PMR world in Europe. ‘It is so stupid that regulators and politicians are focused on the short-term monetary gain from selling spectrum and tell the public safety community to just piggy back off the commercial networks. We all know they are not robust or resilient enough in an emergency.’
He sums up: ‘Nobody has any clear view or strategy for the way forward. And overlaying that you have the financial crisis, so even if we had spectrum and had identified the right technology, nobody has any money! Biting the bullet and following the American example may be the best way forward.’
In the exhibition space, the UK’s Fylde Micro and Japan’s Icom were demonstrating their dPMR Mode 3 digital trunking system. Icom has pooled its expertise in 6.25kHz narrowband digital development with Fylde’s knowledge of trunked radio systems.
The key development is that it provides interoperability between dPMR and MPT1327 radios. Fylde has developed a unique translation table in its Multi-Lingo controller, which ensures that dPMR users can be included in MPT group calls and vice versa.
Norman Burrows, CEO of Fylde Micro, tells Wireless: ‘It’s all about helping customers migrate from analogue to digital at a pace and scale that suits them. So, if a company has 20 cement trucks fitted with analogue radios and one gets broken, they can replace it in the truck with one of our dPMR repeaters, but they don’t need to buy 19 others right then.
‘That ability to upgrade one radio at a time is very cost-effective. The other way of migrating it is to get dual mode radios, but that means you have to change all the radios at the same time, which is expensive.’
Mode 3 offers multi-channel, multi-site radio networks using narrowband (6.25kHz) FDMA technology. It can be easily integrated into IP networks and offers many forms of voice and data functionality.
Burrows says that Fylde and Icom are talking to customers now with the aim of taking orders for delivery by Christmas. Each company is addressing its own customer base, however. ‘We don’t want to cause confusion among customers. This is an inter-trade agreement, not a joint venture,’ explains Burrows.
The PMR Summit 2012 will be held at Rey Juan Carlos, Barcelona on 17-19 September.
PMR summit 2012 programme highlights
· What are the most cost-effective solutions and models for business critical communications?
· What are the new challenges faced by mission critical communication users?
· How are solutions evolving to meet these challenges?
· What new applications are available to users and how can you exploit them?
· How can the broadband requirements of PMR users be most effectively addressed?
· Evaluating mobile broadband including LTE and WiMAX
· What are the implications of limited available spectrum?