Achieving true interoperability among police, fire, public utilities and other officials has been a struggle for years. Agencies at local, county, state and municipal levels use different parts of the radio signal spectrum and need multiple radios to communicate with each other. Even with standards like [APCO] Project 25 (P25), a P25 radio operating on the VHF band could not talk to a P25 radio on the UHF band, explains Steve Nichols, Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at Thales Communications Inc.
To improve interoperability and meet the demand for smaller radios, Harris, Motorola and Thales have designed new devices that host a variety of modulations along the range of bands in a smaller, more powerful package.
Motorola introduced APX portable and mobile radios at the August 2008 APCO conference in Kansas City, Mo.; Harris introduced the Unity XG-10 at the same conference; and Thales unveiled the Liberty radio at the February 2008 International Wireless Communications Expo in Las Vegas. All three radios will be available this year.
The APX 7500 & 7000
Motorola's APX 7500 dual-band mobile radio fits into existing Motorola XTL footprints, reusing hardware and cables. With a 1,250-channel capacity across 700/800 MHZ bands as well as VHF, the APX 7500 features 100 system personalities, compared with 50 in earlier XTL models. The APX 7500 s O3 and O5 control heads are designed to mimic the radio s portable counterpart, the APX 7000, so that switching back and forth between the two requires a smaller learning curve.
The APX 7500 and 7000 allow for seamless scanning of multiple protocols and RF bands, and support FDMA and TDMA along with RF bands; P25 Phase 2 TDMA technology doubles voice capacity. POP25 over-the-air programming allows for software updates to take place via ASTRO 25 IV&D Trunked, as well as ASTRO Conventional, systems. Both APX radios are backward and forward compatible with Motorola s ASTRO 25 systems.
Thales Liberty radio has been hailed as the first multiband, software-defined land mobile radio that provides access to all public safety bands (136 174 MHz or VHF, 380 520 MHz or UHF, 700 MHz, and 800 MHz) and more than 2,600 channels. It features AES and DES encryption, OTAR and FIPS certification along with a full color display.
The Liberty can take advantage of P25 conventional, P25 trunked and legacy analog (12.5 and 25 kHz) infrastructures or work with no infrastructure at all. It can be deployed to scale in any setting, rural or urban, with a minimal learning curve for users. It is also intrinsically safe for use in hazardous environments.
The Unity XG-100
Harris Unity XG-100 is a lightweight model for joint public safety operations. The radio has frequency band coverage from 136 to 870 MHZ, extended battery life and full P25 compliance in both conventional and trunking modes.
Like the Liberty and the APX 7500 and 700o radios, the Unity XG-100 enables first responders to communicate with other agencies, whether they re on analog or digital.
The Bottom Line
The Liberty, the APX 7000 and 7500, and the Unity XG-100 are designed to meet MIL-SPEC 610F ruggedness requirements and are submersible. All three feature large, tactile push-to-talk buttons; on the APX 7000, this button accommodates both audio and data functions.
Finally, and most importantly, all three radios utilize TIA Class A-compliant receivers, a standard that requires multiband radios to operate without the performance degradation that single-band radios would experience in a congested environment.
In short, true interoperability is now achievable with one radio.