2-Way radio – should I upgrade?

As with all communication systems, the technological pace of change in the 2-way radio space can make you start to wonder if the current system that you have is the best for your needs. In this month’s blog, we’ll give you a simple view of what’s currently happening in the market which may help you decide. We will also talk about Push To Talk over Cellular and how that is changing the market again.


Digital vs Analogue 2-Way Radio

Digital radios are nothing new, having been introduced many years ago, but why are they better than an analogue system? Both send signals over a radio channel that carry voice from one device to another, so why go to digital when you’ve already got an analogue one?

The 3 main benefits of a digital system over analogue are:

  • Better voice quality. Digital error code correction can screen out some of the background noise, meaning that the receiver will hear the sender’s voice in much greater clarity.
  • More secure. Digital voice signals are encoded, making it harder for somebody to eavesdrop in on a private conversation.
  • More functionality. Digital radios carry more features, such as GPS tracking, complex call groups and individual calling. Increasingly, digital 2-way radios are now incorporating bodycams, reducing the need to carry multiple devices around.

What is Push To Talk Over Cellular?

One of the more recent developments in digital 2-way radio technology is Push To Talk over Cellular (often abbreviated as PTToC or, more simply, PoC).

PoC is an evolution of the traditional mobile phone system, allowing 2-way radio functionality to be used on traditional mobile phone networks such as Vodafone, O2, EE and 3. The devices offer two way communication at the push of a button in the same way that traditional radios do, but they utilise mobile phone networks rather than traditional closed network repeaters.

What are the benefits of PoC over a more traditional 2-way radio system?

  • Coverage. As PoC devices utilise mobile phone networks, coverage is equal to that you experience on a mobile phone. Many devices offer dual SIMs, meaning that you can attach to the strongest mobile signal in the area you’re currently in. At Foresolutions we actually use Aeris SIMs which are multi network and switch to the strongest available signal.
  • Contingency. Traditional radio repeaters can fail, which then means that your whole system is down. As PoC devices can work over both WiFi and cellular, there is not a single point of failure, as the device can switch seamlessly to an available network, be it an alternative mobile network when using dual or multi network SIMs, or to a local Wi-Fi network.
  • Hardware consolidation. Any modern mobile phone on iOS or Android can be given PoC functionality with the right software system and support model in place. Some phones even have a dedicated push to talk button. This means that only one device is needed, driving cost savings and a more seamless user experience.
  • No licence. An OFCOM licence is not required for PoC devices.

Learn more about upgrade considerations and check out a case study where we deployed PoC to a busy Midlands shopping centre.

Can my existing digital radios talk to PoC devices?

If your current system runs on a repeater, you can make this a hybrid system and combine both technologies by linking the repeater with a base station, or by changing the repeater to a dual mode repeater. Great news for those business who have already heavily invested in a digital network, but perhaps have a couple of sites without optimal coverage, or workers who need to remain in contact whilst on the move between sites. This way you just deploy tactical upgrades to PoC and keep the kit that’s still doing a great job for you. We’ll always carry out a full assessment and give you a true picture of where upgrades are needed to meet your evolving business requirements, whilst ensuring you’re not paying unnecessarily for a complete upgrade if you don’t actually need it.

Are you ready to review your current business communications setup?

After taking on board the different capabilities of the 3 levels of technology we’ve outlined above, perhaps you’re ready to discuss the next steps. Please get in touch to arrange a no obligation consultation. We’ll even arrange to come and test the traditional digital radio and the PoC radio in your questionable coverage spots so we can be sure your new radios will be up to the job.