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Shift to digital mobile radio picks up steam

Posted: 19 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:licensed mobile radio? digital technology?

According to IMS Research's recent report, the initially sluggish migration of licensed mobile radio (LMR) users from analog to digital is seen to grow more than twofold by 2016.

Digital technologies were first launched to the mobile radio market in the mid-1990s, during which technologies such as TETRA, TETRAPOL, APCO Project 25 (P25) and EDACS were developed. However, the high price compared to older analog technologies slowed down the migration, limiting the adoption to public safety agencies and a few organizations from other industries. Hence, only 15 percent of LMR users used digital at the end of last year.

Conversely, developments within the industry are forecast to result in a faster migration to digital in the next few years. "The introduction of digital technologies such as DMR, dPMR, NXDN and PDT will open up the digital market to agencies that were unwilling to pay the prices required for solutions such as TETRA and P25," said Alex Green, one of the authors of the report. "Legislation, particularly in the U.S., will also drive migration. On Jan. 1, 2013, all VHF/UHF mobile radio license holders in the U.S. will need to have migrated from 25kHz channel technologies to 12.5kHz solutions. In many cases this will encourage a move to digital technologies such as P25 for public safety users and possibly NXDN, TETRA or DMR for others."

The "Licensed Mobile RadioWorld2011" revealed that analog use will persist for some time. The average replacement rate for LMR terminal is about seven years. Even if all replacements from now on were digital (which they're not), the analog user base would continue for a long time. Furthermore, although technologies such as DMR, dPMR and NXDN reduce the total cost of ownership of digital to more affordable levels, they do not bring it down to analog levels. In industries and regions where price is the key factor, analog solutions will be chosen over digital, the report added.

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