Radio comms going multiplatform

Damm Australia

By Jonathan Nally
Monday, 03 August, 2015


Radio comms going multiplatform

Why use just one radio technology when you can combine two or more?

Software-defined radio (SDR) has been described as the radio of the future for quite some time now, and many examples are on the market. At the Comms Connect Sydney event in June, Critical Comms spotted the DAMM Cross Technology Outdoor Basestation BS422 on the GMG Solutions stand. The company claims the device is the first of its kind — capable of working TETRA, DMR Tier 3, TEDS and analog modes.

We spoke with Allan Detlefsen, DAMM’s CCO, about the company’s philosophy as it applies to multiplatform technology and where he sees this field heading.

Allan Detlefsen head-and-shoulders image

DAMM's CCO, Allan Detlefsen.

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CC: It seems that more and more, critical communications devices are becoming multiplatform-capable. What do you believe is driving this?

AD: From our point of view, there are two things that are primarily driving critical communications devices to become multiplatform-capable: the migration from analog networks and devices to digital; and the increased requirement and need for being able to combine digital voice communication with data communication.

It is therefore a combination of easing the shift from analog to digital for users as well as being able to meet today’s expectation of optimising communication networks.

We believe the best option today, if you want to have critical voice as well as high-speed data, will be to combine two or more communication platforms.

Also, the fact is that that people of today want to minimise costs and protect their investment when establishing a communication network. Therefore, instead of selecting a product which holds only one communication platform, they will with a multiplatform product able to meet their needs for today as well as for tomorrow — in essence prolonging the lifetime of the infrastructure.

Finally, the simplicity of working with only one hardware and software platform offers an attractive alternative to having to work with multiple products, each with their individual hardware and software. In essence, it means having the same API regardless of your radio technology.

CC: Can you give some use-case examples of where this sort of technology would be used?

AD: One use case is where operators of an analog network want to migrate to a digital network over time. During this period they want to be able to have a hybrid network consisting of analog as well as digital sites. Ultimately, the network owners want to have digital (DMR Tier 3 or TETRA) on all sites.

Another use case is where owners of a communication network want to permanently have a network running DMR as well as TETRA at the same time. This could be for public safety network operators where certain users would be assigned with a DMR radio terminal and other users would be assigned with a TETRA radio terminal.

Schematic showing DAMM TetraFlex technology spread

Common to the inquiries we have received from the market is that customers are attracted to the simplicity of combining the different communication platforms into a single network, with only one network management system, one software user interface and one hardware platform.

Our primary focus will be within industry segments such as metro and urban rail, mining, oil and gas, airports, utilities and so on. However, we also do work on the public safety segment in various geographies.

CC: Why did you choose the particular mix of TETRA, DMR Tier III, TEDS and analog?

AD: Basically, the BS422 is part of a communication network concept called TetraFlex, a true IP-based concept that integrates the communication platforms mentioned above with other IP-based networks like 3G and 4G mobile network as well as Wi-Fi. The BS422 is therefore a cross-technology base station that enables the customer to run analog as well as digital communication and integrate with data networks.

Included in the TetraFlex concept are a number of other DAMM product offerings such as a log server, a dispatcher and a network management program. Further to these, DAMM also offers a soft terminal, which is an app that runs on an Android, Windows or an Apple product (iPads, smartphones, PCs, etc) and which enables you to communicate and access voice and data communication in the TetraFlex system.

CC: How long has DAMM been working on this technology?

AD: The BS422 is a result of more than a decade’s R&D experience; therefore, it has been in the making for many years.

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