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Digital


real market share because if you look around a power station at the moment, you can never talk to anybody! T ey’ve got a PMR set, but you can’t talk to them on mobile phones or anything else.... If we can give them one device that will work as PMR set and a mobile phone, then they can use it as a business-critical mobile phone.”


Business tool He cautioned that managers wanted to give their critical workforce a business tool, not the gaming console that modern mobile phones had become. “T ey do want full duplex PSTN interconnectivity so they can talk to customers, so they can talk to businesses... You’ve got to be able to dial in and dial out, and that’s again a Tier III function.” However, Mr Grilli continued, the real


change in moving to digital will be the ad- vent of IP. “If you do IP end-to-end, it really does start to get exciting”, he said. “T e only trouble with going IP end-to-end is the people who develop IP applications expect you to be on a wired network or 3G with 10 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s or a gigabit. And when they migrate the application on to a PMR radio, the thing is in- credibly data-hungry. “Furthermore, IP tends to chatter all the


time. It will keep chattering whether it has got data to send or not. So IP applications, I think, are really where we going – but how are we go- ing to put those on to a PMR platform which doesn’t want to have it chatting all the time and which has got limited bandwidth?”


Broadband needs T e utilities’ other big requirement is telemetry and telecontrol, over a wide geographic area but at low data rates. T is could be handled through DMR, although extra channels would might be needed for it.


‘We need a private technology that we can deploy in these big plants that will give us the sort of megabits we need’


However, for broadband data needs there is


still only one option – the 3G public networks. “T ere are two issues there – well, many issues”, said Mr Grilli. T e fi rst was network conges- tion. “If you walk around the O2


stadium when


there’s something going on there, and you were using that for mission-critical, you most prob- ably wouldn’t get access; you wouldn’t get the data rate when there’s a concert going on. And if you were trying to maintain any piece of plant, that wouldn’t be good. “T ere’s also the issue on large sites, chemical


plants, oil plants, power stations, where I don’t see us having 3G or 4G ubiquitously around those plants. You can’t use Wi-Fi because they are all steel and concrete, and Wi-Fi doesn’t give you penetration. How are we going to get data to our workforce around these big plants? “We need a technology, a private technology


that we can deploy in these big plants that is going to give us the sort of megabits that we need. I suppose the technology I’ve seen is WiMAX out there, but again the deregulated WiMAX most probably won’t give us the pen- etration to these sort of plants. But that must be an enormous market for the business radio community.” Another problem, Mr Grilli went on, was


the security risk in managing critical infrastruc- ture such as electricity installations via a pub- licly-accessible data network. “As soon as you think about controlling electricity substations over a public network, then you’ve got to go through all the security requirements that will be imposed upon us for transferring that data over a public network.


“If you keep it on a private bearer, it’s going


to be an awful lot easier to keep that data secure and convince the relevant regulatory authori- ties that that data is secure and that the system cannot be hacked. T at’s an area where at the moment I don’t see anything at all.”


A great opportunity Adrian Grilli concluded, “We see great op- portunity there in the technologies which are around. We do need Tier III DMR before we can go there. Tetra would be an interesting op- tion but I don’t realistically see us gaining access to the spectrum we need. “We see dPMR as really being a sort of small


network solution, because [our] great vision is all these data applications and full-duplex voice. dPMR, I think, will struggle to do full- duplex voice. But we do see it as a very impres- sive technology.” Telecoms journalist and consultant Alun


Lewis, chairing the morning’s session, ended with this sideways perspective on migrating to digital: “It’s actually more like continental drift in reverse”, he mused. “T ere are separate continents, if you like, of circuit-switched in Eurasia, you have the IP of North America, and you’ve got Australasia zooming up from the south, and you have suddenly got this new supercontinent being merged. “Everybody sits at their own particular silo,


their own particular niche, and still has naïve faith in the integrity of their own nation-state, despite the fact that the Earth’s crust is shifting beneath their feet. So we’re going to get there whether we like it or not.”


ith its crowded mobile radio bands and lack of free spectrum to support new systems and technologies, the UK is in a rather different situ- ation from the rest of Europe, said David Taylor, of the consultants Analysis Mason. Major analogue systems were still being constructed in the UK – for example, the large MPT 1327 trunked radio system for SSE, to be supplied by Team Simoco. Commenting on this later, Adrian Grilli, of JRC, the band management company for the UK energy industry, fi lled in some of the background. “If you take SSE in the north, there is no digital technology which they could deploy in that space to do anything”, he explained. “They can’t get Tetra spectrum and they can’t get trunked DMR. I suppose they could go trunked dPMR, but that would be proprietary, and they don’t want to go down that route.” Mr Taylor pointed out that the lack of Tetra spectrum had altered the course of another large radio scheme some years ago when he was work- ing on a project for London Buses. “They would have liked the Tetra system but they couldn’t get the spectrum”, he said. “They chose in the end an MPT 1327 ten-site system for London. And it’s working fi ne. It does everything they want, which is the Code Red voice emergency; they then use GPRS for the location information, and GSM and 3G and Wi-Fi. They’ve got about fi ve different services through the one antenna on the bus. “But 1327 is still there. There’s suppliers out there selling new equipment. It’s newly developed equipment and it still offers a very good solu-


Why large analogue systems are still being commissioned W


tion.”


Adrian Grilli, too, emphasized the longevity of analogue trunked systems – for example, the Nokia network which SSE is about to replace in its Scottish Hydro region. “That went in in the early 1990s”, he said. “I remember going to Helsinki to see Nokia in 1999, because we wanted them to guarantee year 2000 compliance – and they declined to give us year 2000 compliance! So the system became unsupported in 1999, and it’s still working today... These 1327 systems are really very reliable.”


36 LAND mobile October 2011


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