Icom unveils revolutionary new wireless LAN radio

Icom is about to launch a disruptive technology in the shape of a PTT comms system with duplex voice and messaging using the unlicensed Wi-Fi band, as James Atkinson finds out

Icom unveils revolutionary new wireless LAN radio

Icom is to launch a revolutionary new Wi-Fi-based radio system in March 2014, which will provide licence free, yet secure communications for business sectors that are unable to gain coverage or run conventional two-way radios.

The simplicity of this new system is that the communication is licence free, as it uses the unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi spectrum bands – the same spectrum tablets, mobile phones and laptops use on Wi-Fi. Using Wi-Fi means no annual licence fees or call charges are paid once the system has been set up.

Icom’s new IP Advanced Radio System provides organisations with a simple radio system, which is only restricted in its range by the coverage area of a wireless LAN network. The communication range can easily be extended by adding more access points (APs) to an IP network.

Ian Lockyer, marketing manager of Icom UK, says: ‘There are many organisations such as hotels, restaurants and small shops that have typically used licence free radios because of cost issues and relatively small coverage requirement. They usually suffer from interference, lack of privacy, limited calling features and communication instability because of other users on a busy shared band.

‘For these customers, licensed full powered radios can be difficult to use because of the unavailability of frequency spectrum or the expense of maintaining and licensing a radio scheme. This new licence free wireless LAN system brings back cost effective and efficient private communication to this previously unserved customer base.’

Demonstrating the new system to Wireless, Phil Holmes, systems sales & support engineer, Icom UK, says: ‘It provides a typical range of radio features such as all call, group call and individual calling, but you can also do area-based calling and speak to anyone within range of a particular AP.

‘You can also make localised calls to other buildings in the same area and we are looking at using VPN tunnels to connect to remote sites, or you could connect to external Wi-Fi antennas to communicate across a site or even across a town. We are also looking at options to connect to public access networks, so you can call anywhere in the world.’

The terminals have a messaging capability, so pre-set messages can be programmed in and new text messages sent. In addition, each terminal has its own IP address for the central server, so administrators can undertake complete over-the-air updates of firmware, re-programming, stun, kill and revive and so on. Radio tracking is done in relation to proximity to APs.

The terminals come with a choice of internal and external antenna options (there’s an approximate 10m difference in range between the two depending on the power of the APs).

Sam Taylor-Nobbs, sales director, Icom UK, adds: ‘You can use the Icom terminals with existing wireless LAN infrastructure from other vendors, although some adjustments have to be made and you’d need to look at the warranty issues. For optimum ease of use and simplicity of management, it’s best to use Icom APs and gateways.’

A key feature of the system is that it enables full duplex voice calling. But not only that, you can also get hands free full duplex communications via an accessory, so users can move about doing their jobs and still talk. The APs can handle 12 simultaneous conversations each and up to 100 users can be loaded onto the system with full duplex voice capability.

Holmes (pictured) says: ‘The terminals are IP67 certified for dust and waterproofing, so they are very durable and tough. We reckon the battery life is approximately 20 hours. It is an incredibly easy system to set up,’ he continues. ‘Yes, you need knowledge of Wi-Fi LANs, but it provides a very simple and cost effective way of getting a PTT full duplex, two-way radio system with messaging.’

Taylor-Nobbs says: ‘It’s so simple you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. The technology will interface with our IDAS dPMR two-way radios and SIP phones using our VE-PG3 Radio over IP gateway.

‘That means you can use the terminal to make a full duplex call to a desk phone, as well as analogue and digital two-way radios, which is very useful for a lot of organisations. A later function will be the inclusion of I/O lines for remote telemetry. We believe this will open up a lot of new and different markets for Icom.’


Wireless LAN Main Features

 • Licence free radio system using a wireless LAN

• Users can roam among deployed access points

• Dispersed sites can be connected over an IP network (VPN)

• WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK encryption protects conversation security

• No licence fee, no call charges

• Use two-way radio communications in previous areas where there was no coverage.

• Up to 100 users can be loaded on a system and all users can communicate at the same time

• The IP100FS remote communicator shows user position information based on access point information

• Individual, group conference call, all call, area call, priority call

• Full-duplex communication: talk and receive simultaneously like a phone call (optional headset required for IP100H)

• Press to talk operation like a conventional transceiver

• Unique area call function can call any user who is accessing the specified access point

• Remote stun, kill, revive and monitor function (transmit from IP100FS only)

• Status call and short data message with vibration alert

• Auto provisioning function helps easy transceiver configuration

• IP phone and analogue transceiver interconnection with VE-PG3

• IPX7 waterproof construction (IP100H only).

NB: These are still preliminarily details for this radio system and specifications may change. Check the Icom UK website for further details, pricing and availability.

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