Despite the general economic gloom hanging over much of Europe, exhibitors at Cologne’s PMR Expo 2011, held at the tail end of last year, reported that the show was busier than the previous event in 2010 and was in fact attracting interest from many countries besides Germany.
Most of the major PMR terminal manufacturers and equipment providers were present at the show.
Cassidian Systems had its TETRA radios (30142) on display, along with a new item in the shape of its TB3P mini TETRA base station. It is largely designed for indoor use, but can be deployed outside with a protective cabinet.
Cassidian director Tapio Mäkinen said the product has aroused considerable interest in Germany from building landlords, as it is easy to install and does not take up much space. ‘It is part of the Building Regulations in Germany that building owners must provide radio coverage for firemen and others inside a building,’ he explained.
Wireless LAN solutions
Motorola Solutions was displaying some of its solutions for managing the huge rise in devices coming onto wireless LANs (WLAN). It’s Total Enterprise Access and Mobility (TEAM) Voice over WLAN (VoWLAN) solution is designed to provide toll-quality voice and data over the WLAN via the industry’s first Windows Mobile VoWLAN smartphone.
The EB400 smartphone provides PBX-based telephony on a mobile device, along with enterprise grade push-to-talk capability for communicating with individuals or groups (up to 255 definable groups) using DMR or TETRA two-way radios. Other facilities include: corporate email, calendars and contacts, text messaging, internet/intranet access, and support for mobile operating systems, Windows 6.1, and access to server-based business-critical applications. Motorola is also offering the option of the EWP 100 clip-on, two-way microphone.
Also on show were two new and very small Wi-Fi access points, the AP621 and AP6511 series, which are aimed at providing full Wi-Fi coverage in venues such as hotels and hospitality areas. Each access point can cover up to three rooms.
South Korean manufacturer Unimo (30165) also had a presence at the show. Unimo’s Peter Kong said that South Korean police and fire forces had asked for a smaller, lighter handset, which has led to the development of the P21500k terminal. The radio has attracted interest outside public safety in the shape of the construction industry.
Unimo was displaying its main TETRA handset, the MU-1000, but Kong said it has the UT-1500 in the works, which the company claims is the world’s first dual-mode TETRA and GSM (or CDMA) handset. GPS is also an option. It will be on display at the International Wireless Communication (IWCE) show in Las Vegas in February.
Kenwood’s system sales manager Jens Toobe observed that the show was more international this year with more people from countries bordering Germany attending.
The company was promoting its NEXEDGE technology, which Toobe said had been very successful in Europe and the US. ‘There has been a lot of take-up below TETRA and among lower tier analogue systems. The advantage of NEXEDGE is its extended range compared with analogue networks and its reliability.’
In terms of markets, Toobe said: ‘We are looking at multi-site public safety in Eastern Europe using the Kenwood NEXEDGE public safety system for the police covering the whole country. Network operators are also looking at NEXEDGE because of its over-the-air programming capabilities.’
Kenwood was also showing off a nifty bit of touch-screen technology for use in motor sport communications. ‘We have developed a graphical interface showing the Hockenheim motor sport track,’ explained Toobe. ‘It’s a switchbox with four digital radios that shows the track and the position of all the race marshalls and the radio ID they have been issued with.
‘It has a touch-screen so if you want to call a marshal, or a number of them, you just touch their position (shown by an amber dot on the screen) on the graphic of the race track. You can see who is speaking to whom and can follow the car’s progress via a GPS scan overlay. It is all customisable, so it can be adapted to different race tracks,’ added Toobe.
Tait Radio Communications newest product was its DMR Tier III equipment range. It only had prototypes at PMR Expo, but the full product range will be available mid-2012, according to sales engineer Alessandro Fridreich.
‘We want to enter the market with a fully fledged portfolio: DMR Tier III; VHF; and Tier II equipment. We are seeing an increasing demand for low band, especially in Europe. We want to be seen as a solutions provider offering a complete package including consoles, antenna systems and applications,’ he said.
‘Our speciality is that we offer a smooth transition path from analogue to digital, so that will take the stress out of migration if you have existing analogue equipment. With our TB8000 base architecture you can swap one module and panel (or rack) and it remains the same. You can replace your architecture module by module, so that you can have one digital and one analogue channel, for example,’ said Fridreich.
CommScope was displaying the benefits of its RF node repeaters at the show. Daniel Dick, director of wireless sales, said that the company has been quite successful in the US with public safety, but is now trying the German market. ‘The regulators have been the real hold up here,’ said Dick. ‘It has been a two-year approval process for our equipment, but we’ve done it.’
CommScope’s Node A digital repeater platform was featured at the show. Its high dynamic range allows it to operate in the presence of strong interference without the need for external filtering or attenuation. Instead, the repeater’s filtering capabilities only amplify the required signals, thereby mitigating interference and optimising the Node A’s output power capacity. The repeaters support up to four frequency bands in a single chassis with fully integrated multi-band combiner and modem for remote monitoring and control.
Panorama Antennas is busy in Germany supplying equipment for the BOS migration to the country’s new TETRA network. John Thompson, technical sales and support manager, pointed to a tri-band whip antenna as one example of the products it is selling.
‘What’s unique about it is it’s a true 4m and 2m TETRA antenna,’ said Thompson. The antenna is resonant on each band and does not require a matching unit. Used with Panorama’s triplexer unit, this enables 4m, 2m and TETRA radio to electronically operate on one antenna. The multi-band base supports 3G GSM, 2.4MHz and 5.4-5.8MHz Wi-Fi and GPS. ‘It is a VHF whip, but when the migration to the TETRA network is complete you can replace it with a TETRA whip antenna, he said.’
Thompson added that new developments at Panorama have mainly been about providing MIMO products for LTE for mobile carriers, but it is also looking at developing vehicle antennas for both TETRA and LTE.
Alan Pinnegar, VP and general manager, EMEA at control room communications provider Zetron, said: ‘The show is a lot busier than last year. Seventy percent of the people we have seen are not German, so that is the most impressive thing – they have mostly come from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. It is mostly resellers talking to us.’
Pinnegar observed that many people think of Zetron as an MPT supplier of small and bulky technology, but its recent TETRA system installation at Oslo Airport has now put it on the map.
Hytera and Kirisun
Chinese manufacturer Hytera and its new acquisition Rohde & Schwarz Professional Mobile Radio were also at the show, but the manufacturer was marking time to some extent as it awaits German regulatory approval of the deal. Product manager Markus Oltmanns revealed that approval is taking longer than expected because of the security-related issues associated with TETRA.
Rohde & Schwarz Professional Mobile Radio is expected to become Hytera Mobilfunk sometime this year when the deal finally gets approval. In the meantime, the company was showing two new radio tracking solutions: one for DMR Tier II radios, which is repeater-based (conventional); and the other for DMR Tier III, which uses very sophisticated digital tracking.
Fellow Chinese manufacturer Kirisun said PMR Expo was the only show it was attending in Europe. It is mostly selling its analogue radio range at the moment, including the PT8200, 6500, 3600, 4200 terminals, but said its first DMR handset, the DP770, will be launching in the middle of this year.
It is on the hunt for European distribution partners and for the time being is targeting end users such as security companies, retailers and hunters. Its bestselling terminals are the PT4200, especially in Sweden and Germany, and the PT7200.
Sepura reveals fire control system
Sepura’s stand was mainly devoted to supporting its German partner Selectric and was largely targeted at the German fire brigades. Sepura senior sales engineer Thomas Kennedy said: ‘We are showing a fire control system. It’s a software display for the fire services.It is designed in the same way as our radios, so it is familiar to users and that cuts down on the amount of training required. We’ve had a lot of interest in it at the show.’
Also on display was Sepura’s first ATEX radio, which was launched at the TETRA World Congress in May 2011. Senior product manager Mark Barmby said: ‘What we think we’ve done differently is talk to the end users and build it round their very specific requirements. For example, it is designed so that a fireman can press the buttons with a glove on and the push-to-talk button is also easy to find.
‘On many ATEX products the audio levels are too low because of all the extra casing required. Users told us they sometimes have to stop what they are doing and hold the radio to their ear to hear. So we worked out a way to make ours four times louder.’
Headsets and radio microphones
Imtradex MD Ralf Kudernak said that demand for the company’s products is largely being driven by fire brigades and other critical services. Kudernak said that the key challenge is keeping up with the proliferation of digital radios. ‘Software standards are changing,’ he said. ‘With analogue equipment we needed to produce around 40 different circuit boards for the radios out there. But with digital we have to produce around 250 circuit boards to match all the radios!’
Imtradex was showing off its Aurelis series of handheld microphones, which are tailored to different user groups. The AurelisBase standard model (pictured above) offers a send button, microphone, speaker, emergency call button, three-level volume control and a programmable LED. A connection for external audio equipment and a fixation for pull relief (for audio accessories) is also included. Also on display was the Aurelis Bluetooth hand microphone, which comes without the need for a cable connection to the radio, thereby increasing the ease of use.
CeoTronics provides radio accessories for police and security forces and the company’s Frank Stoffels points out that most of its new products are ATEX certified. ‘We work with customers to develop new ideas, but we don’t really serve the mass market, we do specialist equipment. We are able to connect or access our products to any radio manufacturer – and there are a lot of radios out there, although Germany is our main market,’ he said.
CeoTronics has developed a multifunctional remote unit, the CT-MultiCom, which is a handheld microphone with provision for additional connectivity options (30183).
In addition to a 3.5mm jack for CT-Earphone/Soundtube, different CeoTronics communications can be connected via the Nexus socket. There is also an option to connect the unit to helmets with built-in communications, for example. But if the user takes his helmet off he can still communicate via the remote microphone – a handy benefit for security forces.
DAMM shows plug and play
DAMM Cellular Systems was showcasing its TetraFlex plug and play field communication system with its IP65 protected outdoor base station (30151). The field service box also contains the base station controller and the power supply.
‘The Danish military is very interested and we’ve also had some interest from the British armed forces, event management, offshore and humanitarian relief work sectors,’ reported marketing manager Bettina L. Johannsen.
‘A normal deployment is two carriers and one controller, but we can go up to four carriers. You can set it up within 30 minutes, as it is all pre-configured before. Raising the antenna mast is the slowest part. You can attach it to multi-site networks to communicate with other camps. It has the same range as any TETRA system and it can cope with very harsh environments,’ she explained.
DAMM was also showing off its BS411 high capacity indoor base station, which can combine indoor and outdoor systems for up to 16 carriers.
DAMM’s TetraFlex solutions have been deployed successfully in road, metro and rail systems, as well as the mining industry. The oil and gas sector is a big focus for us in 2012,’ revealed Johannsen, adding that third party networks were another area of growth. For example, in St Petersburg, DAMM has supplied equipment for a municipal network, which is used by public safety, industry and transport companies. ‘One Danish power supplier has installed a TETRA network that hardly uses any voice – it’s mostly data: monitoring, alarms, a man-down facility and the like,’ said Johannsen.
M2M and software providers
TETRA and GSM modems for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications were on display at the Piciorgros stand. At present the company has separate modems for GSM and TETRA, but it is working on a new product that will combine the two, which is due out in the middle of 2012, according to engineer Dirk Reufsteck.
The TMO-100 universal TETRA modem is an all-in-one solution including controller, router, modem and mobile radio. Either serial or IP-based protocols can be communicated. For this reason it is equipped with two serial interfaces (optional RS-232 or RS-422/285) and one Ethernet port (10/100 MBits/s). Either SDS-based or packet data transfer can be used for data communication via TETRA infrastructure.
The optional voice feature offers the opportunity to connect a microphone speaker set, which allows workers to contact the controller on-site in case of emergency, for example. The product can also come with internal inputs and outputs.
Finnish TETRA and GSMR software solutions provider Mentura was flagging up the latest version of its TETRA Management Suite – TMS 4. The company’s MD Sami Honkaniemi explained that the software is designed to help TETRA network operators manage and utilise their services: ‘We aim to make it easy and cost-efficient to manage and optimise the network.’
TMS 4 provides a data management platform for reporting, service provisioning, billing, network monitoring, alarm management, subscriber tracking and event analysis. The system also provides ROCS (Role Oriented Communications Server) a system that uses virtual numbering and dynamic grouping.
‘The advantage of ROCS is that the user can take any radio from the pole of radios and then just log in with his/her own user name and password. The user will then automatically have access to the right privileges and he will receive all the right communications related to his roles and tasks,’ said Honkaniemi.
• PMR Expo 2012 takes place on 27-29 November in Cologne