Kenwood showcased its new Nexedge Gen2 multi-site digital trunked network system at PMRExpo 2015 (24-26 November 2015), along with EU-ready versions of its Nexedge NX5000 terminals. It also had a demonstration of its Type-D trunking solution on display and launched new low tier, entry-level DMR radios.
The key point about the Nexedge Gen2 system is that it vastly increases the capacity of Nexedge radio networks by boosting the maximum number of sites from 48 up to 1,000 sites.
Gabi Muresan, export technical support engineer at Kenwood, explained that available with the new system are a system controller, site controller, IP gateway, network manager and bridge server. Apps are connected to the system via the IP gateway to provide a major improvement in the data capacity, as well as providing greater stability of the system by cutting downtime thanks to full redundancy features.
Muresan said: ‘It is fully compatible with Nexedge Gen1, all you need is a firmware upgrade, but you don’t need to buy any new hardware if you are an existing Nexedge user. The migration process is very straightforward.’ For more on Nexedge Gen2, see separate story here.
The new NX5000 radios meet the ETSI protocols for the European market. The mobile radios models are the NX5700E (VHF) and NX5800E (UHF), while the hand-portables are the NX-5200E and NX-5300E. The antenna on the handhelds has been switched to the left unlike most Kenwood radios for public safety users. They carry a noise cancelling microphone on the back and support DES 56-bit encryption.
‘The key difference with these radios is that they are multi-mode,’ explained Muresan. The radios can support analogue, NXDN conventional and trunking and P25 T1 FDMA and P25 T2 TDMA modes. In 2016, DMR will be added to the platform. The radios can be switched manually between radio modes.
NXDN Type-D trunking
NXDN contains two trunking protocols within the same standards suite NXDN Type-C (as with the Nexedge Gen2 system above) and NXDN Type-D trunking. Type-C trunking is a centralised, control channel based architecture where the trunking logic and allocation of traffic channels is done via a dedicated control channel.
Type-D trunking is a distributed logic based architecture where no control channel is used, and all channels available in the system can operate as traffic channels. ‘The Type-D system is compatible with Icom’s NXDN trunked system,’ said Muresan. ‘It is a very cost effective solution, as it has no controller. You have two repeaters, one of which acts as the home repeater. You can have voice calls on one channel and route data through the other.’
Up to 30 channels can be provided per site and IP site connections are also available. A multi-site version will be available in 2016.
Low-tier DMR radios
Kenwood also unveiled new low-tier DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) mobile and handheld radios in VHF and UHF versions at PMRExpo 2015: the TK-D240E/TK-D340E and the TK-D740E/TK-D840E. These join the existing TK-D200 and TK-D300 mid- and the high-tier DMR radios to provide a full range.
Mike Atkins (pictured above), managing director, Kenwood European Headquarters (Communications), told Wireless: ‘The low tier DMR radios fill an important gap in our portfolio.’ Atkins said the price pressure on terminals is particularly tough in Western Europe, even more so in the UK, which is always the first to move and the first to really feel the pressure on prices.
‘For some time our strategy has been to offer the right product to the right customer and be present in all the viable technologies: DMR, dPMR and Nexedge – it depends on the application and the customer needs. We feel this approach is paying off now and Nexedge has continued to do so well in the right markets, for the right customers; hence the further enhancements with Nexedge Gen2 and the NX5000 radios,’ said Atkins.
Expanding Nexedge networks
Atkins said that Kenwood has many mission critical systems in Europe, but they have been limited to 48 sites until now. Previously, customers could combine different networks to provide a bigger system and the radios could move between the networks, but they were not fully integrated.
‘Nexedge Gen2 will enable them to expand the size of their networks as a fully integrated system, which can now go up to 1,000 sites. We have several in the 100s of sites. You can now add more complex features as well. The Bulgarians and South Africans are looking at possibly expanding, but the one in Lithuania is the first one to go right now. We have a hit list of about 10 networks at various stages,’ reported Atkins.
Turning to the multi-mode radio platform, Atkins said the NX5000 European versions can support analogue, P25 and Nexedge. ‘The platform is ready for DMR as well and that should be available in three to six months. Having DMR and Nexedge in one platform will be fantastic for us, as we have users that want to bridge the two. It means you can have mixed radio fleets of FDMA and TDMA in one body and on one system, where you can switch between the two.
‘Ours is true mixed mode solution,’ he continued. ‘The solution hears what it hears and acts accordingly. It is not two separate channels one for analogue and one for DMR or whatever. We held a key dealer meeting a month ago to talk to them about it, so we had a sort of two-tier launch this year.’
Market view for PMR
Looking at the market, Atkins said the EU is pretty steady in terms of sales and also pretty stable. The same cannot be said in some areas outside the EU where political factors are the biggest issue Kenwood is facing, as some regions are very volatile. ‘In Russia you have the sanctions and Ukraine has its problems, so it is hard to plan. It is not ideal in places, but it is not disastrous either, as new opportunities are popping up.’
Atkins added that Kenwood is acutely aware that there is clearly a need for high speed data among some customers, which LTE can provide. But he points out that in many countries, especially Europe, there is no LTE spectrum available for private LTE networks, so that means relying on commercial mobile operators.
‘It is quite easy to do the app that connects PMR to smartphones cellular networks, but it is all about matching technologies to available budgets,’ said Atkins. ‘We have a strong partnership with Airbus Defence & Space for research. We have different views of the market and are working out the best strategy of direction to take the research, but we are pooling resources at the moment.’