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FCS Business Radio 2016: Looking to the future

Land Mobile reports from this year’s FCS Business Radio event, which covered the UHF Strategic Review, mission-critical data services, Ofcom’s use of drones and more

Business radio’s demise has been predicted for the last 15 years, and it’s been wrong every time. Let’s keep them wrong,” said Tim Cull, FCS’ head of business radio, at the federation’s annual Business Radio event in November. 

Cull says he knows of companies that have lost contracts because they couldn’t supply wide-band mission-critical data solutions, which are becoming more important to customers. He adds that UHF2 might not be the band of choice for mission-critical data. “I see white space as an opportunity in non-rural areas where you could expect very little programme-making and special events [radio use].”  Cull highlights predictions that there will be a more than 40 per cent increase in airtime in UHF2, and as a result a change in the technical assignment criteria from two to three is “a no-brainer”.

20161117_122037.jpgChris Pateman, the FCS’ CEO, says it is campaigning for cyber security to be recognised as a board-level responsibility in all companies, Ofcom to have to report annually to parliament on the need for its continued existence, and the creation of clear metrics for determining the societal benefit of comms infrastructure.

Dan Faulkner, channel manager (UK & Ireland) at Motorola Solutions, says it is seeing a shift away from hardware/CAPEX towards applications and services but is continuing to invest in LMR. He adds that as part of the rollout of MOTOTRBO Capacity Max at Gatwick Airport his company and its channel partner Servicom are providing automated job ticketing. 

Vaughan John, Ofcom’s head of business radio, discussed the UHF Strategic Review, saying that the regulator will not propose a UHF2 realignment, and that voice is still the predominant requirement.

Paul Jarvis, head of technical systems at Ofcom’s Baldock radio station,said unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be useful tool in the future and that it is currently working out the rules of engagement for taking video footage. Jenny Bailey, an Ofcom engineer, was on hand to show us one of its drones, which are being used to validate Ofcom’s propagation model for 700 MHz ahead of an upcoming spectrum auction. 

G S Kok, senior vice-president of Hytera, explains that it is close to getting approval for its zone 0 ATEX/intrinsically safe DMR handset. There were gasps when he showed a video highlighting the importance of such devices. A man trying to unload a fuel tanker at night turns on the torch on his mobile phone to see, which ignites the fuel and unleashes an inferno. At Hytera’s booth an early version of its dual mode devices (pictured right) was on display. We can expect to see them in the second quarter of 2017.

Jamie Bishop, marketing manager EMEA at Tait Communications, says Tait’s staff use its technology to have PTT conversations across continents. He also discusses Tait’s UnifyVehicle hub, which in addition to mobile radio integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular connectivity, connects to smart devices, and provides seamless roaming.

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During the gala dinner, Panorama Antennas won the Gerald David Award for Innovation in Business Radio for the second time in three years. The judging panel was impressed by the company’s ‘Sharkee GPSD’ vehicle antenna; a compact MIMO antenna that has all the functionality required for the ESN in a single discreet casing.

The FCS Business Radio event was a great reminder of how much passion and innovation exists in our industry. Given that Pateman has suggested focusing more on the exhibition and networking next year, it will be interesting to see what format it takes. 


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