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LTE 2 way radios will make commercial LMR systems a thing of the past

12dbsinad

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If anyone who follows what's hot, you'll probably notice LTE radios becoming popular. Low monthly fee, cheap GPS, WiFi connectivity, nationwide coverage, mobiles and portables are just a few key features. I personally believe these will take over the LMR for profit world. Even with tons of sites with IDAS and DMR, you never seem to have enough coverage. Plus, add the cost of site rental, backhaul, maint., etc, LTE seems like a gold mine.

Just sharing my thoughts in the industry..
 
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Outerdog

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Motorola's cost of $13k per subscriber seems to be a barrier to entry which needs attention. Hopefully competition can bring that price back down from the stratosphere.

Also, that's "gold mine" -- not gold mind.
 

12dbsinad

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Motorola's cost of $13k per subscriber seems to be a barrier to entry which needs attention. Hopefully competition can bring that price back down from the stratosphere.

Also, that's "gold mine" -- not gold mind.
Sorry, must of fat fingered auto corrected?
BTW, I am not talking about publicsafety LTE and radios.
 

AA6IO

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LTE radios will indeed likely take over LMR. We are seeing the same thing in amateur radio. Pi-Star and other hotspot (mini-repeater) technology is an ever increasing trend. Just listen to the 2-meter and 440 bands nowadays. Listen to HF voice (SSB) except during contests. Then go to the digital modes, D-Star, more-so Fusion, and the biggest increase: DMR. All plus cross modes using hotspots. Some say its not real radio. Well, LTE is not real radio either. But they're both highly useful for the majority of communication, and isn't that what radio is really all about. Additionally, with the use of MESH networking, conventional radio as we know will play less of a role in communication 10 or 20 years from now, perhaps sooner. LTE will be a goldmine, as stated above.
 

tunnelmot

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I both agree and disagree. I agree in that I have a close friend who owns his own very successful business and LTE made absolute sense in both coverage and cost. When two-way communications became necessary, there was no reason to choose LMR over LTE. This person is familiar and has used LMR over almost 2 decades (LTR/NXDN/shared FM repeaters) and even I could not conjure up any reasonable argument for staying with LMR. With him having several mobile and portable LTE 2 way subscribers deployed I have to admit local or regional LMR airtime options lost out in his case. He is very radio savvy, and in the VERY few instances where LTE coverage was lost they just temporarily used personal phones to coordinate and resume comms over the "radios" once out of the minimal dead zones.

Where I disagree is that Hotspots, LTE, etc is not real radio. Even though LTE may not fit the traditional definition of radio, it most surely is. We can't monitor those systems as in the past and that will be a trend in the near future but it is still radio nonetheless. You, I, us cant monitor it...but it's still radio for sure.

It's hard to convince a small to midsize business owner to front the cost of mobile, base and portable subscriber units plus the monthly airtime fees when decent Chinese or even Motorola units will do the same job for the minimal cost of a unit and data only sim card. No installation costs, base station setups, yagis, coax, extra fees for encrytion, etc. There still will be cases where particular campuses/warehouses/local businesses benifit from local based LMR systems, but in today's world LTE is extremely attractive and meets the needs of lots of traditionally target LMR customers for less $. Simplex local comms is where LMR is seemeing to really shine right now. But it's getting harder to make the case for large regional LMR costs except for specific business models.

Heck, I've pondered subscribing to Mototorla's WAVE service and piping into my hotspot at home for ham and monitoring my local PS away from home.

It's not all doom and gloom as I think that mid to large companies will migrate to local LMR based systems with linked LTE subscribers for extended regional/national coverage. There are areas I travel daily where AT&T drops out but the local 7/800 mhz public safety system AND the local DMR amateur radio network are full strength and usable.

Lets discuss this as there are multiple factors at play around the country (topography, LTE coverage, costs and such).
 
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Here's the view from a part-time SMR.

We can't compete with PTToLTE. Add in Motorola royally screwed us with Capacity Max since our only migration solution from Connect Plus is to upgrade 90% of our subscribers to Gen 2 DMR radios it just isn't cost effective to even talk about it. We could save some money and acquire surplus P25 subscribers and build a P25 system for a little less money...but it still isn't cost effective since Motorola's pricing with the TLK100 is not much more than airtime but you get a free device out of it with a two year contract.

PTToLTE has some major advantages, especially in the business industry. Granted, there will still be valid use cases for traditional LMR systems (on campus, in-plant, etc). One thing PTToLTE does not handle well is latency. For this reason, it is not yet a viable solution for primary public safety services. Also, even with all the money being thrown at cellular network expansion, it'll take years to meet the existing needs of many public safety agencies for coverage. Overall, it's here to stay and will be a driving force in the market for years to come.
 

buddrousa

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Just remember LTE phones change ever 5 years or so if that is the case they will expect you to change radios when they sunset your LTE radio.
 

IAmSixNine

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I would think the average life span of an LTE phone is closer to 2 years as thats a more logical cycle time for them. I personally have never used the same phone for 5 years and dont know anybody who has. Add to it a working environment vs light usage for personal use and i find it hard to believe 5 years is the life expectancy of a phone.
 

belvdr

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Let us not forget MTV was gonna put radio stations off the air in the 80's.
XM Radio did not kill the FM Stations either.
Those were paid services against free. I wonder if there will be a similar outcome.
 

buddrousa

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LTE service will not turn out to be free.
Just look at 1st Net that is where this is going if I was betting.
 

MTS2000des

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This is what consumers want, when I say consumer, I mean the typical business LMR users. They don't see the ROI of investing hundreds of dollars per head for a purpose built "walkie-talkie" that has limited coverage (usually), only does PTT, and then comes with a recurring monthly cost. Chances are they're already giving that person a cellphone and footing the bill for that, and the cellphone does more than just voice but email/apps and of course they're favorite wet dream: personnel tracking.

Hard to sell even a $300 radio when cellular carriers give smartphones away for free and it "does all of that too". The user wants to carry a single device.
 

cmdcomm

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Sometimes the user fees for the local TRS can exceed what a cellco can provide service for, plus the devices are also often at no cost to the agency as opposed to kilobuck P25 subscribers. With APX NEXT, even Moto is hedging their bets with LTE. In CPS i can already steer a talkgroup to LTE instead of LMR on WiFi/LTE equipped APX radios.
 

12dbsinad

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LTE handsets will only come down in price as time goes on. Handsets can be had for a few hundred dollars, mobiles slightly more. As far as using a regular phone, the one biggest problem is it's app based and not very reliable and not very user friendly. Companies also don't want cellphones while driving. PTToLTE specific radios are proving to be reliable and a direct replacement for digital LMR radios (almost).

As far as life span, well LMR is almost getting as bad with technology and advances changing all the time. Just look at Mototrbo over the past 5-7 years and the equipment is much more expensive. There is going to be a time when business wide area LMR systems won't be able to compete, and I personally think we are starting to see the beginning. Some may disagree and that's fine, just my observation. The interface for LTE radios is slick, not more programming or updating anything in the field. In building wifi connection will also solve in-building coverage.

It isn't the end all for everything radio, but I think it will put a big dent in TRS both cost wise, coverage wise, and feature wise for people who want dedicated 2 way radios and pay a monthly fee for them. Kind of like what trunking did to conventional "community" repeaters back in the day.

Also, If everyone is worried about LTE lifespan lasting only 2-5 years, what's going to happen to public safety LTE using 13K portables? Guess they'll have to buy all new ones as well..
 
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KG7PBS

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Mountain West DMR we have a few of the Motorola TLK-100 linked to are TG and it works well. we even have P25 linked to it, we can talk P25 to DMR and LTE its cool
 

tunnelmot

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Another semi-related factor is that many company communications are now on the employee in a lot of careers. In my line of work I've noted that employer provided mobile mounted 2-way equipment has fallen out of favor on the assumption that every employee has a cell phone (which is true). In years past, the employer would procure and install the necessary hardware to conduct business, but now days why would they invest the money when you can just call the employee on his/her cell? In reality it has shifted the cost of communications to the employee. How many of us use our personal phones on our personal subscription plans to coordinate with our employers without so much as a second thought? For some trades it makes no sense to budget for a (seemingly to them) redundant LMR based solution when you can just call the employee in the field.

I remember when every AC, pool and plumbing company had a 2 way system whether rented or self licensed. Now all my AC tech buddies use their personal phones to get information on the next service call and no one even questions it. That was a cost previously carried by companies/employers. My employer has 2 separate but parallel telematic systems in every truck we have with real time tracking, reporting and even diagnostics. If they need to clarify some issue by voice, they simply text or call the driver. As someone familiar with the advantages of using regional LMR it would still be a hard sell to convince them to invest in traditional 2 way technology.

Again, I'm not being negative as I believe there will always be certain vocations/locations/customers where simple and instant FM/digital voice (simplex or repeated) comms absolutely make more sense. And I do think many customers realize the value of locally based subscribers that are not dependent on the cellular infrastructure. But there's no doubt the "traditional" customer base is shrinking for SMR systems.
 

12dbsinad

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The company I work for still has a large SMR customer base. From school buses, truck companies, plowing contractors, etc all find a need in traditional radio. Cellphones would not be practical for them given things like hands free laws and we have zero tolerance in my state when it comes to commercial vehicles and school buses. It wouldn't be practical to have a bus driver or snow plow driver pull over to answer his phone or text.
 
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