How First-Responder Communications are Evolving

The emergence of simultaneous LMR and LTE capabilities, along with PTT apps on smartphones, tablets and WiFi-only devices, opens up a world of potential new products such as more robust phones for industrial use, dual- or triple-band radios with LTE phones built inside, possibly even with a USB port on the side for uploading data.

Dave George is president of Pryme Radio Products and holder of more than 35 product patents. This is his annual forecast of communication trends and technologies.


Convergence is now Commonplace

The 2016 International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) proved that the convergence trend and evolution toward network-based wireless communications is indeed becoming a reality. 

At the end of the day, it’s really about the network, not the technology. I’ve been seeing this coming for quite a while and the IWCE Show confirmed we at Pryme were 100% right in our decision to invest our resources in wireless accessories.

A plethora of partnerships between major wireless carriers, software application developers and hardware manufacturers was prevalent at this year’s Expo. Pryme announced alliances with four different PTT application developers: Zello, Motorola’s Wave, Kodiak, and ESChat. In addition, Pryme is developing projects with cellular carriers AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

The devices being used may vary, whether Android or iOS phones, iPads/tablets, or land mobile radios, but in all cases, the end goal is the same—faster, more secure wireless communications with better range. 

PTT over cellular (PoC) technology has begun extending beyond business enterprise to first responders. These software apps facilitate instant worldwide communications via WiFi or cellular networks, without the limits of two-way radio channel range. Security doesn’t appear to be an obstacle either—Most PoC applications feature sophisticated encryption and can even be hosted on private, secure networks. For example, the U.S. government already operates such networks worldwide.

Meanwhile Bluetooth has been the driving force behind wireless accessories, mainly because of its wide acceptance and versatility. Long before anyone else, Pryme saw the need for specialized adapters that would give existing two-way radios Bluetooth capability and, unlike others, Pryme decided to invest in engineering and equipment allowing us to develop our own Bluetooth technologies. 

Although this investment was initially only for two-way radios, ultimately it put Pryme in an advantageous position. About five years ago, word of this technology reached the Belgian Police and representatives from that agency approached us and asked us to develop a remote PTT device for PTT over cellular application. This marked the beginning of Pryme’s expansion from being a leading two-way radio accessory manufacturer to being the leading design, engineering, and manufacturing partner for PoC wireless accessories.

Today, Pryme may have the most comprehensive line of universally compatible, open protocol Bluetooth wireless headsets and accessories for Android or iOS cellular and two-way radio devices in the entire industry. In fact, JVC Kenwood recently announced new radios and software updates to existing radios with built-in Bluetooth that will be compatible with PrymeBlu, Pryme’s Bluetooth product line.


The Emergence of More Hybrid Equipment

Land mobile radio usage isn’t going away, but it is changing. The industry is already evolving and companies with foresight will take advantage of the many new product development opportunities that will arise.

The emergence of simultaneous LMR and LTE capabilities, along with PTT apps on smartphones, tablets and WiFi-only devices, opens up a world of potential new products such as more robust phones for industrial use, dual- or triple-band radios with LTE phones built inside, possibly even with a USB port on the side for uploading data. So if LMR, LTE, or WiFi is the channel best suited to the users' requirements , they can easily switch networks. It’s simply a matter of choosing the optimum channel to communicate on. 

Integrated systems are already in the works and new radio equipment will soon follow. As I predicted last year, regardless of whether it’s voice or data, communicating the message is more important than the device or network used to transmit it. 

Pryme’s newest product introductions at IWCE were inspired by customer demand, but they were also an indication of the growing need for wireless in every field. One key example is Pryme’s set of three new Bluetooth Dual Muff Headsets for aviation/ground services, racing, construction, and other high-noise environments like crowd security and shooting ranges. Originally very popular as wired versions, this professional grade line now comes with built-in Bluetooth technology that has a range of up to 10-meters, offers more than 12 hours of talk time, and dual pairs to both cellphones and two-way radios at the same time.


Merging Multiple Devices

We stay ahead of the curve because we see the curve. Communications convergence is here, but what’s down the road? 

Fewer devices that do more. One device will fulfill a combination of needs, whether it be communicating, internet, computing, body cam or more. Case in point, Pryme is already assisting in the development on a new speaker mic with an LTE phone inside for those that prefer traditional looking equipment, but want advanced PoC communications capabilities. It’s all about convenience and uninterrupted communications.

At IWCE while being interviewed by UTC Journal I plugged a prototype of Pryme’s new iPhone compatible Heavy Duty Speaker Mic into my personal phone and, with the use of Zello’s app, was able to talk to my technical manager in our Brea, CA, office from the show floor in Las Vegas making my phone look and act like a portable radio. In the future you might never know when someone is speaking on a two-way radio, when in reality they’re using a phone. 


Value and Service

This is the one trend that hasn’t changed and never should. No matter the product or provider, the value of premium quality, specialized customization, unparalleled service and affordable price points will always separate “trendy” from “permanent.”


About Pryme Radio Products 

For nearly 30 years, Pryme Radio Products has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality products for professional users of mobile communications. Pryme is devoted to innovating new technologies that serve a wide range of industries and uses. All products are designed, engineered and built in-house. Pryme is capable of customizing communication accessories for almost any end-user need. Pryme also offers industrial strength wireless accessories for almost every two-way radio brand and model and now also most PoC application versions, including ESChat, Kodiak, Wave, and Zello.


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