Anyone in the two way radio business?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Tilpots, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

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    #1
    About to interview with a company in my area as a sales rep and wanted to see if anyone can let me know some of the ins and outs of the biz. I sell phones for a VZ retailer now so I'm familiar with selling tech. I'd just like to gauge the health of the industry and get any advice available.

    I know this is random, but you never know who or what's gonna pop up on these boards. Thanks! :)
     
  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    I am involved with the public safety radio system business. I just finished a project building a large ASTRO P25 system.

    Who are you looking at?
     
  3. smithrh macrumors 68020

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    CQPSK or C4FM?
     
  4. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    No, an 700/800MHz digital simulcast system.
     
  5. smithrh macrumors 68020

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    Simulcast = CPQSK, although there are some fringe vendors who think they can run C4FM in simulcast mode.
     
  6. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    We built 6-site Motorola simulcast which is incorporated into the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS).
     
  7. smithrh macrumors 68020

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    I had thought MPSCS was essentially done, but a cursory look shows activity is present, though not like in the initial buildout days.

    Guessing CCE maybe?
     
  8. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    The state part of the system is done, but other municipalities are always joining. A couple of years ago they had to do a major upgrade to increase capacity because there was no more room to grow.
     
  9. Tilpots thread starter macrumors 601

    Tilpots

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    Amerizon Wireless. They are an NC company that is expanding into my area. I'm pretty sure they handle smaller accounts for the most part like retail, hospitality and small biz.

    Looked up the system you mentioned. That's big time! Really mission critical stuff. You design those set ups?

    I think awhile back you mentioned you used a ton of mifis, correct? Part of the same work you do?
     
  10. smithrh macrumors 68020

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    Since Sprint screwed up Nextel, I think there's more opportunity for 2-way sales than there would have been otherwise. The way it was headed before Sprint came along was ubiquitous coverage across the US and Canada plus Mexico, hit the button and talk. But nooooooooo.... :(

    Some of the things you'd probably be dealing with you might consider mundane and old-school compared to VzW, replacement belt clips, replacement batteries, microphone cables, handsets here and there (that will look huge to you!). Lots of configurations and conflicts and part numbers to get straight.

    I'd also expect them to keep you on the "less emergent" side of things at least to begin with, as you said, retail, hotels, etc. First responders have their own lingo and trust models. I can't tell how much of that business they do from their website.

    On the plus side, no consumers, no contracts.
     
  11. Tilpots thread starter macrumors 601

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    No consumers and no contracts is one of the most enticing things. Accessories seem to be a big part of the equation. I've had experience using 2-way radios back in my film crew days and know how important they can be.

    Coming from a phone background, I know I've seen a lot of companies move away from radios, but I believe there is such a need for that immediate communication in many industries that the demand is there. I see many organizations and businesses using them regularly. Do you all see this as a dying industry or a thriving one?

    One of the reasons I'm ready to leave the phones behind is because I foresee my current job as unnecessary in the very near future. The phones can be programmed to alert you when it's time to upgrade and they can be bought online with only a few button clicks. It's been great business switching people over to smartphones but now that so many have them, I'm turning into a support rep. Then they cut me out when it's time to buy a new device. The job's not going away tomorrow by any means, but it's certainly changing and has drastically since my employment began just before VZ launched the iP4. So I guess my big concern, is will the 2-way biz be relevant for many years to come?
     
  12. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    No, I don't design them, far more intelligent people than me do that - engineers. What I did was implement it, be the administrator and project manager. I set up what I wanted and ensured it got done. I had to deal with oversight boards, public hearings, commissions, city meetings etc.. I didn't do the physical work of installing it, but it was my responsibility to make sure it was done, and done properly.

    Yes, it was also me that implemented the Sprint network for law enforcement too. The last time we spoke, you were encouraging me to try VZW. I have a couple of demo units in the field in some Panasonic ToughBooks and ToughPads with VZW right now. So far the deputies tell me they have the same coverage area problems with VZW as with Sprint. There is just no cell towers for any carrier in certain areas of our county.

    As far as 2-way radio as a business goes, whether its declining, or increasing, my opinion is that it's steady. Back when Motorola was one company, they had their LMR side and their commercial cellular side. The commercial side was constantly being floated by the LMR side because it wasn't viable. LMR brought the money in and kept the other side going. Then Google bought the commercial side and Motorola split and the LMR side is now called Motorola Solutions and they are doing just fine. As we all know, Google sold off their commercial stake of the cellular side not too long ago - again, not profitable.

    Selling 2-way radio to public safety isn't easy. We require very specific things, and the systems we buy are very expensive. The hard part is for those public safety entities in coming up with funding to buy those systems. They probably want and need a new system, but many smaller communities struggle to come up with the funds. It took me two attempts at a millage vote before I got my $16 million that I needed for mine.

    But, there are plenty of other areas where 2-way is still needed and depended on. These are just some of the ones I can think of. MTA buses, railroad, large factory's, big warehouse's, utility company's (electrical, gas, telecommunications), airports and so on. Sure they have cell phones, but sometimes, the phone isn't adequate and radio works better.
     
  13. smithrh macrumors 68020

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    With the death of Nextel, there's a pretty reasonably sized market for PTT (Push To Talk) communications. Push a button, talk, everyone hears you - not just the person you dialed. "Everyone - main dishwasher is down, use the one in the basement" or "We're lifting the girder now" type stuff. It's a one to many channel, unlike calling or texting someone on the phone.

    There have been many attempts to re-create the success of Nextel, but they've all fallen short of the mark, which has led to something of a comeback for two-way radio.

    Fairly relevant for a while to come yet. Perhaps someone will cook up a Nextel replacement one of these years, but after all of the effort they've spent for basically zero return, I suspect they have a bad taste in their mouths and won't try again for a while. VzW was knee-deep into it about 5-6 years ago, were you aware of that?

    Bottom line, there's always a disruptor coming, you just don't know when or what it will be. But team voice communications for real-time events is really well served by two way - you can keep your eyes and hands free and get info right then and there.

    Coverage for any radio system is always tough, I don't need to tell you that.

    However, there are significant differences in how those two providers architect and operate their systems, as well as the bands utilized. For LTE, VzW has a nationwide band class allocation in the 700 MHz band, which will work significantly better than Sprint's 1.9 Ghz band. EVDO it's 800 for Verizon in most of the country, which is still much better than 1.9 for range.

    My quick advice is to use external, permanent antennas if you aren't already, and make sure that the operators know that those cards/MiFis are used for public safety. Next, complain like a banshee and again leverage the public safety angle. For VzW, call 611 and make sure they know you're calling from XYZ police department and you're not getting coverage.

    It will get attention (well, at least for one of the carriers). And yes, there are things that can be done short of adding towers to get coverage increases.

    I'm sure someone from Solutions told you that story. While it has elements of truth in it, the reality is a bit messier than that - but I'm sure as huge parts of Motorola were sold off, MSI needed a quick and easy way to explain what was happening to their customers, who were likely watching the developments with some level of concern. So I'd view that as their PR statement on the topic, although I'd also wager some of the MSI old timers actually believe it to be totally the truth, which it isn't.
     
  14. Tilpots thread starter macrumors 601

    Tilpots

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    Just to update, I took myself out of the running for the position. I did quite a bit of research and while the company was reputable and the industry seemed healthy, I wasn't convinced I could hit the ground running as fast as is needed. I also lived about an hour and a half from the main office and while I wouldn't be based there, I'd have to venture their several times a week.

    Thanks for all the industry insight. It definitely helped me make an informed decision.
     
  15. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    I'm glad you did your research and made an informed decision. Best of luck in what you decide to do going forward!
     
  16. rhett7660 macrumors G4

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    Do you work for Motorola?

    The radio business is a whole other box of sand, as I like to say. I come from the computer side and I am just learning about radio. I work for one of the largest public safety entities in the US and we are knee deep in a project that covers what is being discussed here.

    Radio folks (hand held, engineers, microwave etc) are a different bread! :D I kid of course.......
     
  17. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    No I don't work for Motorola, they work for me as a vendor. I work for a county PSAP.
     
  18. rhett7660 macrumors G4

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    Ah same here! Gotcha.

    http://www.la-rics.org/
     
  19. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    Yeah, that's going to be much larger than my county! I bet it's never a dull day there.
     
  20. rhett7660 macrumors G4

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    Hahaha. Yup, when I say this, never a dull moment. The amount of work that is going into this is gargantuan! The amount of infrastructure that is being designed is mind blowing let alone the radio towers etc pretty cool stuff though.

    And all of this is just so units within LA County can communicate with each other at the flick of switch. Amazing we can't already do this, but man the obstacles we have come across and ran head first into. Amazes me everyday I come to work. I have partners that are knee deep in it more than me and the stuff they tell me! I am part of a very small, yet to come about/still being worked on part of the project. Which is, in an of itself a 30-60 million dollar project for public safety!
     
  21. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    Actually, I know one of the Motorola Engineers who is working on that system (if it's the one I'm thinking of). He was the one who worked on mine. I talked to him a few weeks ago and he was still out there in L.A. Originally, it was supposed to be a month or two and he's been there over a year now.
     
  22. rhett7660 macrumors G4

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    That is probably the same one. Just the amount of engineering that has gone into this is pretty mind blowing. Not to mention the environmental impact studies, the permits that must be pulled for the towers that are going up around the county. Then getting everything linked together. Pretty darn amazing. They have started, but there is nothing up and running right now.
     
  23. SandboxGeneral Moderator

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    Yup, site acquisition was the biggest pain in the butt of the whole process. We have a six-site system and built two new towers, reused two others from our old system and then used an existing state tower and built on an existing water tower. Plus we added two VHF paging sites, one on a water tower and one new tower. So in all we had 3 green sites to build. Permits, public hearings, township and village board meetings were many, and brought with them associated headaches.

    But once site acquisition was done, the build out went smoothly.
     
  24. rhett7660 macrumors G4

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    That is what we are looking at right now in terms of permits etc.

    We are in the process of setting up:
    200 + LMR towers
    60 + LTE towers

    :eek:
     
  25. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    What kind of square mileage are you covering, and are there a lot of mountains to overcome? I presume the LTE sites are for mobile data right?
     

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