2022 Thought Leaders: Peter Scarlata

Simoco Wireless Solutions Pty Ltd

Wednesday, 14 December, 2022

2022 Thought Leaders: Peter Scarlata

What opportunities do you predict for the growth of your industry in 2023?

Simoco has seen a strong need from the market over the last 12 months or so to have resilient LTE data communications solutions available to service public safety and commercial applications. We have for example released our Velocity and Thorcom range of products which provide resilience via the convergence of radio, LTE, satellite and data delivery protection, where we have devices that bond multiple bearers together to ensure that data gets delivered. We have had a large uptake of these products and I foresee that this will continue strongly over the next 10 years at least. We see the continuation of innovations and developments in transformative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G.

How are you making your company more resilient to ongoing global supply chain issues?

The global supply chain issues have been a tricky issue over the last 12 months that was difficult to predict. However, Simoco has been fortunate where we have been working with our manufacturers for some years now to provide one-to-two-year forecasts, which has really helped the situation. Unlike some of our competitors, we have been able to supply our radio and edge computing equipment without too much interruption, leading to only delays of several weeks in some cases. There is no easy answer to this issue, but what helps is our constant effort in R&D to design out obsolete components and continue working with our suppliers and manufacturing partners to ensure long-range forecasting and that orders are placed early.

Following the extreme weather events of 2022, how can critical communications be better deployed to manage similar events in the future?

Simoco has been well placed to support our customers over the last periods of extreme weather. We are known for our range of ‘Fast Deploy’ radio networks including suitcase repeaters, battery boxes and more recently, Modular Off-road Radio Facility (MORF) technology. Our suitcase repeaters for example have been used for the last eight years by many fire services across the country to set up local networks for firefighters when the permanent installations have been burnt down. MORF is a sophisticated extension to our suitcase repeaters, where it enables a digital Government Radio Network (GRN) grade P25 or analogue network to be rolled out in a heartbeat. This mobile network solution enables firefighters from different states to bring their own radios on different frequencies and technologies, but still communicate with each other. Furthermore, the MORF units can be daisy-chained to provide a very large network within hours.

Are there any new or growing sectors that will be particularly reliant on critical communications in 2023 and beyond?

Simoco is active in many different sectors, but what I see as a couple of very exciting areas over the next 12–24 months are in the areas of public safety and mining. These aren’t necessarily new, but their expectations are rising rapidly. If we take public safety for example, they are thirsty to have data at their fingertips and to have uninterrupted communications no matter where they are. Therefore, we are seeing a large resurgence of activity and interest in products and solutions that can enable these data services to be delivered with very high reliability. We have responded to this demand by developing our own LTE-enabled edge computers and grown our range of intelligent vehicle routers via the acquisition of Thorcom in the UK. Thorcom provides high-performance, reliable and secure communications in vehicle-routing products and MCPTT solutions to the UK Ambulance Services and to the UK Emergency Services Network (ESN).

Furthermore, we are seeing a similar need, but for a different reason, in the mining sector. The need for data and edge computing products is being driven predominantly by OH&S factors, where such technology is saving lives.

What are the biggest challenges or threats facing your industry in 2023?

I would say that the biggest challenge, but also the most exciting part of our work in the next years, is the integration and transition to broadband from narrowband technologies. Like the revolution of electric cars, high-speed broadband is having the same disruption to our industry. As an industry, we now have the challenge to roll out mission-critical LTE networks like FirstNet in the US and develop the terminals in the same technology that provide the same level of reliability that LMR has done for the last 100 years. As an engineering company, we love embracing change, so working on the seamless integration of old and new technologies and providing great solutions especially for our first responders to save lives will be challenging, but also very rewarding when we see the positive effect this technology will have on their day-to-day work.

What’s on your wish list from governments, innovators and the wider industry in 2023?

Buy local! Simoco is an Australian company that develops our products in Melbourne, employing local and highly talented engineers. What I would like to see is governments and the wider industry considering what is at home and working closely with local vendors before considering that they need to go abroad for their solutions.

Peter Scarlata has over 25 years of experience working at senior levels in national and multinational engineering, system integration, product management, sales and marketing, and general management in companies such as Bosch, Intelematics, CNG Systems and most recently Simoco Wireless Solutions. He is the CEO of Simoco Australasia and is responsible for business growth within the Australasia division.

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