Communications Connection

A Beginner's Guide to Two-Way Radio

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 @ 16:01 PM

For years you've been seeing two-way radios everywhere you've gone.  The usher in the movie theater was using them, the engineer at the hotel you stayed at, the security guard in the casino, the front desk supervisor at the office building, even the football coach in the game you were just watching, now it's your turn at your job.  Your organization has decided to make the jump from cellular to two-way radios and it's your responsibility to set up the communications but you don't have the slightest idea as to what would be best. 

This is Part 1 of our beginner's guide to navigating the world of two-way radio communications.  In it we will address how to choose the right two-way for you and your organization.  Part 2 will cover the actual usage and operation of a two-way radioExpressions-16.jpg


When deciding on the appropriate two-way radio there are some questions you need to ask.

  1. Mobile vs. Portable - How are you planning on using the radios?  Mobile radios are units that are installed in a vehicle like what a bus driver would use.  Portable radios are your "typical walkie-talkie" - units that can be carried around.
  2. UHF vs. VHF - UHF ("Ultra High Frequency") 403-512 MHz is used primarily for indoor applications where there may be some obstacles.  VHF ("Very High Frequency") 136-174 MHz is better suited for outdoor applications without much interference.
  3. Number of Users/Number of Channels - The number of people using your radios system should be considered when thinking about how many channels you would need.  Also consider if you need private channels for management, security, emergency etc.
  4. Number of Locations - How many locations will be using the radio system?  Multiple locations can be linked allowing you to communicate from one location to another or you can have radios for a particular building only.
  5. Features - In an utopian world, what features would you like on your two-way radio?  Do you need a "man down" alert?  Would you like to be able to text message?  Do you need a display that will show names?  Depending on the unit chosen, those features are a few of the options available.
  6. Ruggedness - Do you require intrinsically safe units?  Are your radios going to primarily be used by executives or do you need a more rugged unit for the maintenance workers?
  7. Budget - The pricing of two-way radios range depending on the units and features.  It's a good idea to have a budget in mind when you start talking to a sales rep about your wish list.  Put together a list of what is an absolute must and also what you would like if possible.


Don't be overwhelmed with the options available.  Start by asking yourself the questions above.  Below is a link to a radio selection guide that should also help you see what options are out there.  Call your local radio dealer and they will help guide you through the process.  Once you have your radios up and working you'll wonder why you waited so long to switch.

Radio Selection Tool

 

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio

How Technology Is Changing The Way We Use Two-Way Radios

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Dec 3, 2015 @ 11:12 AM

Two-way communications have been around, in some form, since the late 1800s.  Through the years, with technology ever-changing, they have morphed from the original incarnation that replaced carrier pigeons to the technologically advanced units of today.  Who would have thought back in 1885 when Heinrich Hertz proved that electricity can be transmitted in electromagnetic waves that in 2015 people would be able to communicate with both voice and text from a unit that can be worn on their belt loop?

Radios have been an important part of communications within companies and/or public safety organizations for quite some time.  In the past, they were used strictly as voice communication between one person and another or perhaps messages were relayed through a base unit with a dispatcher.  While today's two-way radios still allow for person to person voice communications and also for a base unit with a dispatcher, there are many advances which allow for increased efficiency and streamlining in your business.TRBO_IMG_6191.jpg

Today there are radio options ranging from voice only to "smart phone" type devices.  These newer units have the capability to cover mission critical and professional needs.  There are applications designed to help with command and control, email and text, interoperability, location tracking, system monitoring, voice dispatch and work ticket management.  In the past, radios were used on a conventional system, while this is still available, Motorola Solutions has made many technological advances.  Now radio systems can be Conventional, Connect Plus (multi-site digital trunking that enables you to accommodate high volume, wide-are communications), Capacity Plus (a single-site, scalable digital trunking solution that lets you expand the capacity of your MotoTRBO two-way radio system), Linked Capacity Plus (integrated voice and data in a single site or across a wide area without the use of a separate network controller), or IP Site Connect (uses the internet to extend the coverage of your MotoTRBO system regardless of where you are).

Two-Way radio was previously treated as a voice only communication device, now it is a solution to increase your productivity, efficiency and safety.  All of these options can seem overwhelming so my best suggestion is to getting started would be to take a deep breath, sit down and make a list.  Make a list of your obstacles and your goals then contact your local radio dealer and they can help you develop the solution that works best for your needs and your budget.  You'll never look at a walkie-talkie the same again.

 

Request a Communications Consultation

 

MOTOROLA, MOTO, MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC and are used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2015 Motorola Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Topics: MotoTRBO, two way radio

11 Savvy Ways To Spend Your Left-Over Communications Budget Money

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 @ 11:11 AM

With the end of the calendar year quickly approaching, many of you are looking at your two-way radio budget and realizing you will have money left to spend.  You want to spend it so you don't lose it, but you also want to be smart about what you purchase.  Here are 11 ideas on ways to spend that left-over budget money.


1. Preventative Maintenance - Check it before you wreck it.  Call your local radio repair shop and set up a preventative maintenance check.  If you have a backbone system, a technician can come in and complete a tune up to make sure all of your equipment is running efficiently and is not in need of being replaced.  You can also have your portables checked.  Are they tuned and aligned properly?  Are they programmed correctly?  How are your batteries, antennas and belt clips?

2. New Batteries - How old are your batteries?  The average battery life is 12-18 months, depending on usage.  Old and under performing batteries can effect the operation of your radio.  Another good idea is to have spare batteries for your radios, especially if they are being used on long and/or multiple shifts.

3. Spare Radios - In addition to having spare batteries, it is also a wise decision to have spare radios on hand.  These can be programmed and ready to go in case one needs repair or an employee misplaces their radio.  This would help to prevent communication down-time and helps to keep you efficiency to the level you are used to.

4. Multi-Unit Chargers - Do you have six plugs running into a power strip charging your radios?  Have you thought about multi-unit chargers?  These would allow you to charge up to six batteries at one times, from one device.  This will help you keep your spare batteries charged as well as create a centralized charging location.

2661016046_6eb98c67d9_z.jpg5. Antennas - The antenna on your two-way radio can take a beating.  Have you looked at them lately?  If you can see the damage it should be replaced (bent, cracked, split etc.)

6. Earpieces - Earpieces are a great way to keep your two-way radios from being intrusive to your environment.  They allow your people to have conversations without everyone else hearing them.  If you don't have any, you may want to consider some.  With the different varieties available, such as Bluetooth or "secret service style" surveillance kits, you will have your choice of what will work best for your organization.  If you already have them, make sure to check your ear buds and acoustic tubes.  These can get grotty over time and are easy to replace.

7. Cases - Your employees are carrying their radios around with them all day.  They get banged, bumped and scratched.  Investing in cases will help to keep down the physical wear and tear on the units.

8. Battery Fleet Management - Motorola Solutions has an IMPRES Battery Fleet Management system.  This works with IMPRES batteries and allows you to monitor battery usage and make an informed decision when it comes to replacing your batteries.

9. Digital Conversions - There are many benefits of converting from analog to digital.  We have covered this in previous blog posts (/bid/106819/6-Things-About-Digital-Two-Way-Radios-Your-Boss-Wants-To-Know and/bid/38413/Digital-Two-Way-Radios-The-Future-of-Professional-Radios  so why not start now?  You can do a slow conversion of your fleet or do it all at once, whatever works best for your organization.

10. Maintenance Contracts - No one lies getting repair bills they did not anticipate.  Consider purchasing a maintenance contract to help prevent this.  Having a contract will allow you to budget for your repairs and increase your peace of mind.

11. Radio Repair Bank - Having a radio repair bank is an alternative to a maintenance contract.  This works on a debit basis where you pre-pay for repairs allowing you to utilize budget money now, and as your radios need repairs or preventative maintenance checks, the amount gets deducted from that bank.

 


These are just a few ways to use that left-over budget money.  Your local sales rep can help you decided what works best for your company.  Don't let that budget money go to waste, contact them today.

Request a Communications Consultation

 



 *Photo Courtesy of Jason Rogers

Topics: motorola, service, two way radio, charging, batteries, preventative maintenance

6 Things About Digital Two-Way Radios Your Boss Wants To Know

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 @ 09:04 AM

You've done your research, you're convinced your company needs to upgrade to digital radios, now your obstacle is to convince your boss.  How do you explain to them the benefits of using digital radios.  Here are 6 things that they want to and need to know about converting to digital.

1- You do not have to convert all of your radios at once (but you can) - Many digital radio models also function in analog mode.  What this means is you can slowly replace radios as the need arises and have the radios programmed in analog mode.  Once all of your radios are purchased and you're ready to flip over to digital all it takes is reprogramming the radios.  If you want to purchase all of the radios at one time but financing is an issue, inquire about leasing options.

2- Long term costs will be reduced - Digital radios and analog radios use about the same amount of power in stand by mode however once you begin transmitting and receiving, digital radios are much more energy efficient.  On average their battery life is increased 40% over analog.  This leads to long term savings since you won't have to replace your batteries as often.

3- Better Voice Quality - When you transmit using an analog radio every sound, every background noise is transmitted.  When you transmit using a digital radio voice clarity is exceptional.  The noise suppression technology allows the transmittal to come through without the background interference.  Watch this quick demonstration to see (and hear) what I mean.

4- Better Coverage - Depending on your environment and your frequency band, your radios only cover so much area.  When you use an analog radio, the closer to the end of your coverage area you are, the weaker your quality is - think similiar to a cell phone in a poor signal area.  While your coverage area with a digital radio will be about the same as your analog, the sound quality will not.  The features of the digital software, the built-in error correction, will allow you to communicate clearly throughout your entire coverage area.

5- Better Capacity - Spectrum efficiency has been a hot button issue lately.  The FCC required commercial two-way radios to be narrowbanded which means operating on 12.5 kHz instead of the previous 25 kHz.  Digital repeaters allow for two talk paths - in essence two "channels" while only using one repeater with one channel.  This not only allows you to have more users but also less equipment and less licensing which decreases your costs.

6- You Can Connect Multiple Locations - In the past, in order for your multiple locations to be able to communicate with each other, you would have had to install a very complicated, very complex, and very expensive system.  Now you have the ability to link your locations using IP Site Connect.  What this means, simply put, you put a digital repeater at each location and then connect them over IP.  Think of the possibilities.  Your maintenance workers in your lower Manhattan  facility talking to the security officers in your Jersey City location.  Your boss will think you are brilliant!

Take these points to your boss.  Explain how you will increase quality while decreasing long-term spending. Digital Radios are the future, make sure your company is on board. Go ahead and take credit for figuring it all out - we won't tell.

 Request a Communications Consultation

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio, digital radio, video

Introducing Motorola's Latest Addition - the NEW SL300 Two-Way Radio

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

Motorola SL300Motorola Solutions, Inc. has recently announced an addition to their ever growing MOTOTRBO portfolio, the new SL300 portable radio.

This innovative radio measures less than an inch thick and can easily be carried in a pocket or purse.  It's ergonomic design allows one-handed operation, similar to that of a cell phone.  It has a shatterproof Active View display that uses a matrix of LED lights behind the radio housing to communicate radio information and shuts off when not in use to conserve battery life.  It is both analog and digital capable which allows you to get all the benefits of digital, including better voice quality, better range and better battery life—but retain compatibility with your existing radio fleet. With analog and digital capability, you have the freedom to migrate to the latest technology at your own pace.  This is the perfect radio for retail, hospitality and education (just to name a few). 

Contact Us for more information or to see a live demo of this great new radio

Motorola SL300 Spec Sheet

Watch this video to learn more about the Motorola SL300 two way radio

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, SL series, two way radio, new product, 2 way radio, hospitality, digital radio

Are your Business Communications Prepared for an Emergency?

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

It's officially hurricane season.  Everywhere you turn you see articles and newscasts discussing how to prepare your home in case of an emergency, what to pack in a disaster kit, what to know about shelters and so on and so forth.  But have you thought about your business?  I'm not talking about taping your windows, I'm talking about your communications.  Your business communications are extremely important to the safety of your employees.  It could be a blackout, a hurricane or another natural disaster or anything that will require your business to use their emergency plans.  Did you include your communications when you were formulating these plans?  Relying on cell phones is not the way to go.  Circuits become overcrowded and calls can't always get through.emergency communications

Okay I got your attention, now what do you need to do to have your communications prepared?  Here are some questions you should ask yourself before an emergency situation arrives.

  1. Do you have a battery backup for your repeater? Your repeater runs on electrical power.  If you have a power failure you will lose your repeater.  Even if you have a battery backup, some repeaters go into a fail-safe mode when a surge is detected.  Do you know how to reset your repeater properly?
  2. How long is your auxiliary power for?  You have a battery backup - great.  Now the question is, how long is it good for?  Make sure you plan what you will do after that time expires.
  3. Are your radio communications on generator power?  If you don't know the answer to this, they probably aren't.  Consider getting a generator to extend your power in the event of an emergency.
  4. Do you have simplex channels programmed in your radios?  A simplex channel communicates directly from radio to radio without using a repeater.  This can also be called a "talk-around" channel.  Your normal communications may require a repeater to function how you need them to.  In the case of a repeater failure, having the simplex channel will allow you to still communicate although there will be limited coverage compared to how your normally communicate using your repeater.  Some communications are better then no communications.
  5. Do you have spare batteries?  This may seem like a silly question but having spare batteries that are fully charged will give you extra time to communicate if you lose power.
  6. Is your infrastructure equipment on the floor?  If at all possible, move your equipment off the floor in case of flooding.
  7. Are you tower and/or antenna structures secure?  Checking the security of your antenna and/or tower structures is something you want to do prior to an emergency.  Through time and weather conditions these structures can weaken.  We recommend having this checked at least once a year.tower resized 600

The above questions are just a few that you should be asking yourself on a regular basis to limit the issues caused to your communications by an emergency.  Being from the New York area, we have all lived through enough of these emergencies to know that communications can make a difference.  If you would like help in evaluating or have questions regarding your communications plan, contact Telecom Communications.  Our staff is trained to know what you need.

Request a Communications Consultation

P.S. While this post focused mainly on business, public safety needs to take precautions as well.  Many of these tips are the same across both however, for more information for public safety read this blog post

Topics: two way radios, two way radio, 2 way radio, emergency preparedness

Two-Way Radio Solutions for Education

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 @ 14:08 PM

 

The end of summer is rapidly approaching.  For children this mean no more beach days or running for hours in the neighborhood, for parents this means daytime quiet and order restored to the house but for school administrators this means a whole new school year with a whole new set of efficiency and budget issues.

With the economy being what it is and budgets being slashed year after year, it becomes a task of how to do more with less for less.  Investing in the proper equipment can help with this.  I'm sure by now you have heard about the mandatory F.C.C. Narrowbanding (if you haven't, read more about it here).  One way to accomplish the conversion and streamline your operations in one felt swoop is to upgrade your equipment. 

Wouldn't it be a dream to be able to communicate throughout your district, connect to your school buses and keep your students safer in the classroom while reducing operational costs?  Well it isn't a dream.  You can make it a reality.  The Motorola MotoTRBO portfolio can help you and your organization achieve this dream.  To learn more about MotoTRBO and it's impact on Education, check out this education application brief "MotoTRBO: Score High Marks for Schoolwide Safety". (to download the brief click here)

You will learn:

  • How to locate your staff, students and buses instantly
  • Prioritize communication immediately
  • Manage employee attendance and payroll automatically
  • Respond remotely with tracking applications
  • Connect your campus completely
  • Reduce operational costs
  • Communicate without disturbing others

Many districts have already deployed the MotoTRBO solution.  To read about how one district did this click here.

Topics: education, motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio

It's a Boy, no wait it's a Girl...no it's a TRBO!

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 @ 14:01 PM

Motorola has recently announced their newest aXPR6100ddition to the MotoTRBO family, the XPR6100.  This is an entry level MotoTRBO digital radio with crystal clear audio, digital performance and efficiency and a great price.  It is voice centric and backwards compatibile with your traditional analog radios. This 32 channel portable radio is available in UHF anf VHF frequency bands and comes standard with an IMPRES Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery. 

For more information on the Motorola XPR6100 click here

To learn more about the MotoTRBO product family visit http://www.telecomny.com/mototrbo/why_digital.htm

 

 

Topics: motorola, MotoTRBO, two way radio, new product

Free Webinar for School Transporters to make sense of Narrowbanding

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 @ 12:01 PM

Motorola, in conjunction with School Transportation News is offering a free* webinar to help student transporters make sense of the FCC narrowbanding requirement that is set to go into effect January 1, 2013.

Cost: Free

Date: January 26, 2012

Time: Noon (Eastern)

Where: Online Webcast

*Toll charges may apply.  Webinar can be viewed online with audio enabled at no additional charge. 

Here is the link to learn more about it or to register

 Click me

You may also be interested in some previous blog posts we have written about Narrowbanding highlighting some important dates and information

narrowband20cta20button-resized-600

Topics: education, free event, student transporters, two way radio, narrowband

3 Common Issues and Fixes for Two-Way Radios

Posted by Amy Cavaliere on Thu, Oct 6, 2011 @ 11:10 AM

I was recently talking to Richie Ciabattari, one of Telecom's top notch service technicians, and he was telling me how we get quite a few calls for service for simple fixes/checks that the customer can do themselves.  So, I thought to myself, let's blog!  Without further ado, here is Richie's advice for 3 things you can check before calling for service.

You hit the push-to-talk button on your two-way radio and something just isn't right.  Your transmit and receive had been working just fine up until now.  Hmmm, what do you do now?  Before you call your local radio repair shop there are a few things you can/should check first.

1- Your radio doesn't turn onRadio Repair AP resized 600

Your radio is completely dead and will not power on at all.  If it's a portable two-way radio check and make sure your battery is properly connected and charged.  Try the battery in a radio you know is functioning.  If it works then you will know it's a problem with the radio and you should contact radio repair.  If it doesn't then you know it's a battery issue and most likely the battery needs to be replaced.  Batteries normally have a usage life of 12-18 months, depending on the level of usage etc.  (For more information about proper battery usage check out my previous blog about them.  http://blog.telecomny.com/bid/60299/3-Tips-For-Proper-Two-Way-Radio-Battery-Usage)  If it is your mobile two-way radio that won't power up at all, check to see if the fuses are working.  If they are, call your local radio service shop.

2- There is static when you transmit or receive

Your radio is experiencing static, now what do you do?  Well, if it's a mobile you're experienceing the issues with, check the microphone for a bad cord and/or connection.  Also check to see if the antenna is missing or loose and don't forget to check the antenna connector on the radio to make sure it isn't loose.  If it's your portable radio that is staticky, check to see if the antenna is loose and to see if the battery contacts are dirty.  You can use a pencil eraser to  clean the contacts.  If none of those work, call your local radio repair.

3 - There is a beeping coming from your radio

You think you're losing your mind.  You keep hearing this beeping noise and then it hits you.  It's your radio.  Make it stop, make it stop you scream but that doesn't help.  So, if it's your mobile two-way that is sounding like it's on life support, there are four things to check.  Make sure the mic isn't stuck in transmit mode, that the radio isn't powered off, that the channel selector has been programmed and finally that the programming information hasn't been lost.  If you are dealing with a portable two-way that is beeping, check to see if the battery power is low, if there is a stuck button or if the programming information has been lost.  If none of the above tips help clear up your issues then (let's say it together) "contact your local radio repair shop".

 If you want to save money on your service requests, follow the link below and submit your request via our website.  All website service requests will receive 10% off until December 31, 2011! (Make sure to put "blog" in the comments section of your request)

Click me

Topics: service, two way radio, 2 way radio