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Old 08-30-2017, 8:23 PM
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Default You do realize the end is near, right? (Conventional and trunked radio)

Just to point it out, do you realize that we are approaching the sunset of two way radio as we know it?

The future is data fusion, IP connectivity, wifi, LTE, and in general, business and public safety communications will become more and more an app running on a customized smartphone-based device and less and less a conventional or trunked two way radio.

IP-based, wifi two way radios with PTT functionality have been available for a couple of years now.

As I've heard, Harris has made no plans to follow up their all-band XL200P and XL200M radios with a future generation replacement, as they're banking on radio networks that are based on one flavor of wifi or another.

I suspect Motorola has similar plans.

I think P25 Phase II trunking is the practical end of the line for radio as we know it now.
It'll be around for a while, but when the P25 systems reach end of life, what replaces them will be
smart devices adapted for public safety and business requirements, running communication apps
that are also customized for the purpose.



What do you think?
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Old 08-30-2017, 8:38 PM
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I think you bring up some good points and I agree with them.

However, there will always be a need for a simple point to point radio that doesn't rely on infrastructure to work.
There will probably always be a need for a radio that doesn't rely on "someone else's" infrastructure to work.
And, there will always be a need for some sort of long distance capability that doesn't rely on someone else's infrastructure.

I don't think that necessarily means that there will no longer be anything scannable out there. But, progress marches on, and it doesn't give a flying fart about hobbyists. Digital will happen, FCC is already talking about the next "narrow banding", going to 6.25KHz channels.

I wouldn't want to be in the scanner manufacturing business right now, that's for sure.
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Old 08-30-2017, 8:53 PM
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WiFi?

I just visited the Smokey Mountains for the Eclipse and stayed at a campground that advertised WiFi. They had WiFi, you could see the antennas, and if you stood in the right place long enough, you could maybe, get your mail. Less than 10% of the time. Poorly configured, few non overlapping channels deployed. WiFi is good for a 300 foot radius at the best.. forget high power AP's, the limitation is the low power and non antenna in the subscriber.

Then there was the Cellular. My 2006 vintage Motorola Razr flip phone got CDMA service in most places, but my wife and son with Samsung smartphones, no service anywhere, not even voice. Made no sense at all.

How many years has this technology been developed and it is still hit and miss?

Throughout the whole trip I was receiving GMRS stations on a proper non Chinese portable, and even worked a 23 mile simplex from Clingmans Dome. Also got a QSL card for 446 Simplex. How about that!

FM land mobile is not dead, it is still fresh, unlike most IP voice services which smell bad.

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Old 08-30-2017, 9:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElroyJetson View Post
I suspect Motorola has similar plans.

If you listen to their CEO this is the complete opposite of their plans.

They expect public safety to continue carrying a data centric device (smartphone) as a compliment to their subscriber. Greg Brown is not banking on LMR going away any time soon.
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Old 08-30-2017, 9:23 PM
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mmckenna's comments are right on and RFI-EMI-GUY's comments on wifi and cellular are totally valid. I live on the southern edge of the Adirondack Park. Cellular service is spotty at best up here. Once you leave a village that has a cell tower, it's dozens of miles of "NO SERVICE" in every direction. Many of the towns have some wifi in the commercial districts or individual businesses, but it's hit or miss. We know that the state would like to bring high speed fiber optic throughout the park, but given the vastness of this place, it's not going to solve any radio problems any time soon.

A few of the communities have some digital radio systems in place and a couple of police departments are encrypted, but for the most part, it's good old conventional analog everywhere you go. Even being above Line C, we don't have much trouble getting frequencies allocated, but there's not a lot of need for expansion in that regard. So I think conventional analog is here to stay for a long, long time in the rural and wilderness areas of the US. I don't have any recent experience with Canada, but I suspect they're in much the same condition away from the cities and large towns.
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Old 08-30-2017, 9:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElroyJetson View Post
What do you think?
What do I think? I think that people have been predicting the end of ______ since the dawn of time, and yet most of those predictions don't pan out.

Remember not too long ago when Nextel Direct Connect was the hottest thing going, and many predicted that service would replace LMR? Yeah, not so much. Nextel is gone, and every month another municipality (local, county, state) is spending millions on a trunked radio system from Motorola, Harris, etc.

Cell phone coverage has gotten better over the past decade, but it is still nowhere near public safety grade. Certainly not when first responders are sharing the bandwidth with the general public. In some specific cases cell phones have replaced LMR, such as EMS to Hospital reporting and for sensitive comms where encryption is unavailable, but cellular will never replace LMR wholesale. There are many places where there is no cell phone coverage, yet the local LMR system works like gangbusters.

And if you're banking on a public safety grade, nationwide, LTE system like FirstNet to replace LMR with the same level of coverage and reliability...yeah, good luck with that.
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Old 08-30-2017, 9:28 PM
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I don't think the end is as near as some think. We have a way of adapting to the new technologies.

Years ago, when CDs were first introduced, I thought it was amazing. Then, IBM said they were working on a way for consumers to write and even re-write on CDs. I thought to myself, "Whoa! That'll never happen. That's way too dangerous. That laser cuts metal. It can burn your eyes. They'll never make that technology available to consumers." Well, I ate my words on that one. People have away of adapting new technology: Drones, LEDs, LCDs, digitalization, etc.

Let's wait and see what happens.
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Old 08-30-2017, 9:48 PM
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Technology marches on. I believe that many industries will move on the bigger and better things ( VoIP, LTE etc...) because it's easier. But...

There will always be someone behind the curve' I believe the Oklahoma Highway Patrol still has some Low Band VHF repeaters that are Crystal controlled, that are still in use on a semi regular basis.

Movie production crews and special event groups still use itinerant uhf frequencies for production, and I don't really see a replacement for that coming soon. Hard to replace the " here's a radio, try not to lose it ."

We had the same mentality when trunking same along, the digital, DMR, so on and so on.

Same things change and go away, but it all comes full circle somewhere.

Just one mans opinion.
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Old 08-30-2017, 9:52 PM
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The PD I support as well as all the public safety agencies in my county are all 100% analog VHF.
There are currently NO plans to change that.

1. The topology of our county requires a lot of radio sites to cover, even then, it's not 100%. Those sites are expensive. The backhaul is expensive. The maintenance is expensive.

2. None of the agencies have the budget to do anything more than buy "P25 capable" radios. No one has the budget to upgrade the infrastructure, backhaul, etc.

3. Even doing anything other than VHF is out of the question. The terrain makes 700/800MHz a poor choice.

4. Cellular carriers have an awful time covering the populated areas. Even on my commute to work along major roads, AT&T can't provide coverage. I've got a 5 mile stretch with zero coverage. Verizon has built out the area using small cells on utility poles, but that's it. AT&T has a -l-o-n-g- way to go before they'll have anything that's considered reliable coverage. Even though FirstNet will rely on mobile "hot spots", if there's no coverage, there's no coverage.

Sure, there's changes coming, but it won't be fast. The larger agencies in the major metropolitan areas have way too much money invested in P25 systems. Even with huge tax bases, they won't get away tossing that investment and jumping on the next. The federal grants are drying up, so the cash cow has died.

But sure, eventually your analog scanner will become less and less useful.
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Old 08-30-2017, 9:59 PM
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Oh, I completely agree that conventional two way radio is not going to go extinct any time soon. There will always be situations where a pair of walkie talkies will work where nothing else will. How long will it be, if ever, where low power devices have 100 percent global coverage and 100 percent uptime/availability?

Way over 30 years after the deployment of the first cell phone systems, we don't even have end to end coverage in the US yet.

But the writing is on the wall, and it says "We're moving toward VOIP and IP based technology", a trend that will continue.

Just as there are cities where, today, public wifi access is available over large portions of the city, with plans to build out those networks to total coverage as the equipment gets ever cheaper and even faster to configure and set up, the same thing will happen in the radio industry, and it's going to happen in the public safety communications market as one of the first activities to begin the transition.

It's already starting. Adding LTE connectivity to 700/800 MHz public safety systems is only the beginning, a first step of many steps toward a radio system that is an app running on a future version of
a wifi network. I believe some radios can also be equipped with optional capability to operate on the 4.9 GHz wifi networks that are allocated exclusively for public safety usage.

Whatever comes after APCO Project 25, it's not going to be another more or less conventional analog/digital trunked radio system specification. Project 50 (let's call it that) will be more about specifying the features and protocols of the app-centric wifi-based public safety communications systems of the future.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:51 PM
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The future of LMR is this: if you are investing in legacy infrastructure that doesn't have an IP based core, you're living in the past and banking on dated technology no other than the guy who thinks VHS will be supported for the next two decades and manufacturers will still be churning out machines and blank media.

I have seen and experienced converged technology (Harris BeON) and this is the future of public safety radio: converged devices, both traditional LMR radios with on-board WiFi and LTE as well as LMR band support, to the app that runs on modern cellphone/tablets/desktop: all seamlessly connected to an IP-network. The transport medium is irrelevant.

As far as scanning, well by traditional means of monitoring over the air radio traffic, technology marches on. Encryption, the scattered nature of comms now being able to take place over different mediums (LMR, LTE, WiFi) all mean the end of easy passive monitoring.

I don't think LMR will completely disappear though, even though it is going IP. It's much less expensive to deploy and maintain than LTE, requires much less bandwidth on the backhaul, is very robust, and tremendous competition now exists for both P-25 and other digital such as DMR/NXDN/TETRA. Products like this make converged networks affordable and scalable and building a multi-site, multi-mode converged LMR system a reality, with the basic call processing subsystem based on industry standard SIP, so porting it or integrating it to LTE or any SIP based system a breeze.

There is one major selling point that governments like about LMR: they have complete control over it if they wish. No reliance on some telecom provider or balancing the fleet users needs with consumers. FirstNET is supposed to answer this concern for public safety LTE the way ESINets are the answer to converged and redundant PSAPs.

LMR is not going to go away, but it is going IP.
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Old 08-31-2017, 1:01 AM
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I think some of the others have really hit the nail on the head. LMR isn't going anywhere, it is simply adapting with technology. FirstNet has its place to augment LMR subscifbers but AT&T has likely bitten off more than they can chew with a 5 year deadline to provide 99% coverage (when after 20 years of serious development and that level of coverage doesn't currently exist). To this day, I can still drive less than an hour out of a major city, lose cell service and let my finger wander to the site button on my radio only to see a 100+ RSSI level display.

LMR is going to IP base and for the most part, all digital capable equipment in current production supports IPv4 at a minimum. Away with the channel banks and having the ability to phase T1/T3's out for more direct IP based mediums.

Adapt to further enhance the quality of communications. That's where the industry is going.
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Old 08-31-2017, 1:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCore25 View Post
I think some of the others have really hit the nail on the head. LMR isn't going anywhere, it is simply adapting with technology. FirstNet has its place to augment LMR subscifbers but AT&T has likely bitten off more than they can chew with a 5 year deadline to provide 99% coverage (when after 20 years of serious development and that level of coverage doesn't currently exist). To this day, I can still drive less than an hour out of a major city, lose cell service and let my finger wander to the site button on my radio only to see a 100+ RSSI level display.

LMR is going to IP base and for the most part, all digital capable equipment in current production supports IPv4 at a minimum. Away with the channel banks and having the ability to phase T1/T3's out for more direct IP based mediums.

Adapt to further enhance the quality of communications. That's where the industry is going.
I see DMR and IP site connect as positive evidence of LMR/IP convergence. One thing to remember is that those T1/T3's had "5 nines" of design target for redundancy, while IP has always been "best effort".
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Old 08-31-2017, 1:54 AM
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Again, good points.

We are looking at the Harris radios with the WiFi as a way to address in building coverage. It's way easier for us to get funding to deploy more WiFI WAP's than it is to get money for public safety. Everyone wants more robust internet access, and they'll scream if they don't get it. Ask for money for a public safety radio system, and they'll ask "why?".

AT&T has already announced that they're going to be shutting down conditioned circuits for radio systems around 2020, and we'd better start looking for a solution. That solution -will- be IP.

The trouble we are running into with IP is that most network guys don't have a clue how public safety radio systems work. Where I work they are willing to provide bandwidth for our needs, but getting them to give us a high QOS isn't something they are eager to do. Add in the requirements for uptime (Five 9's) and they get really nervous.
Part of my job includes running the PBX, and we went VoIP back in 2008 for the backbone. That laid the groundwork to get the network core to 99.999% uptime, router pairs at each site, DC power plants, etc. It's worked well, and we'll make it work for radio, but there's still the average IT guy learning curve. Getting that level of service out to the network edge is an entirely different story. We still won't deploy VoIP phones at critical locations.
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElroyJetson View Post
Just to point it out, do you realize that we are approaching the sunset of two way radio as we know it?

The future is data fusion, IP connectivity, wifi, LTE, and in general, business and public safety communications will become more and more an app running on a customized smartphone-based device and less and less a conventional or trunked two way radio.

IP-based, wifi two way radios with PTT functionality have been available for a couple of years now.

As I've heard, Harris has made no plans to follow up their all-band XL200P and XL200M radios with a future generation replacement, as they're banking on radio networks that are based on one flavor of wifi or another.

I suspect Motorola has similar plans.

I think P25 Phase II trunking is the practical end of the line for radio as we know it now.
It'll be around for a while, but when the P25 systems reach end of life, what replaces them will be
smart devices adapted for public safety and business requirements, running communication apps
that are also customized for the purpose.



What do you think?
Digital is crap in environments with wind and noisy machinery.

It is also problematic for security and other emergency personnel in a fire situation.
Security needs a simplex analog option.
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
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Digital is crap in environments with wind and noisy machinery.


Really depends on the equipment being used. The newer radios featuring dual microphones and phase shift noise canceling do a really good job at fighting it. Of course, it's not something that is easily accessible on a budget.


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Old 08-31-2017, 10:20 AM
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Are you under the impression that we won't continue to improve digital technology?

Of course it's going to get better. The better it gets, the more usable it will be in situations
where analog radio is, so far, still better.

I draw an analogy between CRT based home theater projectors which were the king of image
quality 15 years ago. At the time, digital projectors just did not deliver the same level of image
quality, in fact it wasn't even close. For displaying a powerpoint presentation, they were fine,
but for watching a movie in a home theater environment, CRT was the undisputed king.
Today, digital projectors are at a point where even moderately priced ones equal or surpass
the best CRT units ever made, plus they're simpler to set up, smaller, and lighter, with a brighter
picture.

That happened because of more than 15 years of research and development and improvement of
the digital projection technologies and optical systems.

I have every reason to believe that digital radio systems will develop to the point that eventually, digital
will outperform analog in EVERY situation. You'll get clear digital audio under conditions where an analog signal would be unintelligible. We're not there yet but it keeps getting better.

I do think that eventually, the LMR model will become obsolete at least in major population areas, where
they will deploy high bandwidth mesh networks for total coverage using low power radios.

In systems like that, you won't need 3, 4, 5, or 6 watt radios, you'll be using devices with the 300 mW power level of a cell phone and never be far from a microsite. The device shrinks because it doesn't need a big battery and becomes more convenient to operate.

That transition will start in the big cities but how long will it be, if ever, before all the corn field in Nebraska have full wifi coverage?

That by itself would indicate that there will be a need for bigger, longer range sites and higher power radios for a long time to come. But they'll only be used where needed.

I envision a three tiered system. Large, medium, and small sites, at high, medium, and low power levels, with the smaller sites being more abundant on the ground. All networked, all working seamlessly as one system. Downtown areas use lots of microsites, residential and lower density areas get medium sites, rural areas are served by high power, long range sites but with reduced total bandwidth availability as a result.
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:37 AM
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My first cell phone(many years ago)was a 5 watt bag phone.I would get coverage in tons of places the flip phone folk would not even try.Now I have a hard time getting bars in my back yard.Isn't progress wonderful ?
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Old 08-31-2017, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rufust View Post
My first cell phone(many years ago)was a 5 watt bag phone.I would get coverage in tons of places the flip phone folk would not even try.Now I have a hard time getting bars in my back yard.Isn't progress wonderful ?
There is little incentive for the cell companies to improve coverage. They are making a ton of money . It is doubtful I will switch carriers, because only one works in my house.

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Old 08-31-2017, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
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I don't have any recent experience with Canada, but I suspect they're in much the same condition away from the cities and large towns.
Depends where you go. In BC, the vast majority of the province is conventional analogue except for the RCMP, who are conventional P25. the three major radio users in BC are BC Ambulance service, Ministry of Forests, and Ministry of Highways. Ministry of Forests has a network of over 350 VHF repeaters, all linked by UHF(over 1000 transmitters). There are large parts of the primary highways in this province that still do not have AN Y cellular coverage. I can not drive from Edmonton to Vancouver with out losing service on either Telus/Bell/Koodo/Virgin(Same infrastructure) or Rogers/Fido. Forget the smaller providers that have only major city coverage.

When I travel from Edmonton to the Okanagan or Vancouver area I always take my Global Star phone, knowing that I will be in areas that have NO cellular coverage.

Alberta has AFRRCS and Firenet, one 700MHz/14xMHz P25, the other analogue VHF, an LTE based network is not going to replace either of those networks any time soon, if ever. Too much land to effectively cover with a 0.6w smart phone. Heck I still need to carry a Global Stare phone with me even when less than 50Km from major highways in Alberta. the Cellular coverage is just not practical for a province this size, never mind creating a second PS LTE network to do away with AFRRCS.

Going east, the next province over has a VHF P25 Harris system, and same thing, too big to adequately cover for a 0.6w PS smart phone LTE network.Manitoba is the same, but a mixed mode, 3 zone 800MHz Type 2 omnilink system, that does not even come close to providing coverage in the whole province.

Canada is just far to large to even consider trying to blanket coverage this country with a LTE PS system. There will ALWAYS be a need for traditional LMR radio in Canada.

The only places I can see an LTE network replacing traditional LMR is New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, mostly because they are very small, and can be blanket covered with not a huge cost.

Folks need to remember, British Columbia is 944,735 km(3rd largest province behind Quebec(1st) and Ontario(2nd). The ONLY US state that has a larger land mass than BC is Alaska at 1,717,854 km, yet that pales in comparison to Nunavut that is over 2 million km.

As an example, you can fit the state of Colorado inside BC 3.5 times
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