Radio is dead — long live wireless!

Australian Radio Communications Industry Association

By Ian Miller
Monday, 25 November, 2019

Radio is dead — long live wireless!

We all know that the headline above is an oxymoron; after all radio is wireless, just with a more modern terminology. However, if we acknowledge that wireless is now seen as the new radio, then we get to the crux of the headline — to modern generations, radio as we knew it probably is dead, and to them wireless is the most important technology.

So what does this mean for our industry? Well, the answer is that it gives us a whole new range of options for our clients. Over recent years ARCIA has been pressuring our spectrum regulator (the ACMA) to accept that most business-critical users want to be able to utilise mobile data, yet they are very nervous about putting the running of their business into the hands of a third party (mobile phone carriers). Considering the number of problems our public carriers have occasionally, this is understandable.

After patiently pressing the case we can now see the regulator creating new licence types that will cater for area-wide frequency allocations that will suit private or ‘enterprise’ mobile data networks. As well as that, the spectrum allocations are now being reviewed and we can see that very soon there will be spectrum allocated for these systems. Enterprise LTE systems will be specifically designed for the users of business-critical communications — our customers. This will be a game changer for our industry.

Until now, the radio communications industry has treated mobile phones and mobile data as the enemy, but this must change. Many have already discovered that properly set up PTT-over-cellular (PoC) products can meet user’s needs — needs that historical radio systems couldn’t provide. Well, consider how the customer will benefit from having their own mobile data network, complete with integrated radio communications, as well as their own Internet of Things devices and control and data acquisition facilities… all within one customer-controlled network.

If you haven’t already heard of the Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the US, poke Google in the ribs and ask it some questions, as you really need to learn about it. In a nutshell, CBRS is a localised LTE service operating on shared spectrum, possibly licence free. The ACMA is already working towards providing a similar type of spectrum allocation here in Australia, so the future is here now. This is technology that can be designed and installed by our members — radio professionals who already understand what our clients need in terms of ongoing support.

There is no doubt that our customer base is slowly going to wither away with time, unless we give our clients a really good reason to remain with us. Enterprise LTE services are the real benefit to our clients. By showing users how we can not only supply their mobile data systems, but that they will still have the same high level of personal support they have had for their communications until now, they will welcome the opportunity. So there you have it — radio might be slowly fading away, but we know wireless and so we can be the new technology suppliers. Embrace the future.

Ian Miller is Executive Officer of the Australian Radio Communications Industry Association and Principal Consultant of Orange Horizons.

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