A Cautionary Tale.
We have some clients out there with rather old… No, actually, VERY OLD two way radio systems. They’ve looked after their investment over the years and it’s paid dividends. With occasional repairs (whilst spares are available) their radio systems “just keep working”.
A two way radio system like this is like a dream come true. It still does exactly what you need with minimal ongoing investment.
However, keeping an eye to the future is important.
Without forward planning, a radio system could create a big financial BANG!
Two way radio is the same as any other technology. It eventually becomes outdated and obsolescent.
We’ve all experienced the situation of having to upgrade computers because they’re getting slow, or simply can’t run the software we need.
Computer upgrades can hit you in the pocket.
Using old radio equipment can have significant cost implications.
More specifically, old VHF low band radios.
We’ve seen situations where businesses have been faced with making a substantial financial investment.
A little explanation first… Historically VHF radios were more popular than UHF due to the higher cost of UHF equipment.
Also, VHF radios were available in two “bands”, high band and low band.
Over the years low band VHF equipment became less popular… Why?
- UHF technology improved and became more affordable.
- More “higher” VHF frequencies were made available by OFCOM.
- Low band frequencies were more susceptible to interference.
- Low band antennas were quite long, making them unpopular.
This eventually led to Low Band two way radios no longer being manufactured.
Low Band problems we’ve seen.
The simplest financial BANG! situation we’ve seen was after a local Taxi firm was bought out by a rival. They brought their radios in to have them re-programmed. One system was VHF high band and the other, VHF low band… It couldn’t be done.
Their only options… Lay off 10-15 drivers or buy new high band radios… BANG!
The biggest potential BANG! situation we’ve seen recently is a local company using a VHF low band talk-through system with around 20 – 30 mobile two way radios. Over the last few years, we’ve managed to source replacement/extra equipment for them from 2nd hand dealers.
When that source dried up, we used internet auction sites.
We recently admitted defeat and turned down an order for extra radios.
Fortunately, we’ve since found another source and managed to secure a small number for the immediate future.
VHF Low Band, what are the options?
They obviously need to replace the whole radio scheme… low band equipment is no longer available!
There is little point in considering analogue two way radio, it’s obsolescent.
Motorola stopped making analogue only radios a number of years ago and other makers are heading the same way. So, it seems the writing’s on the wall for analogue two way radio.
Opting for a new analogue system would only set them up for yet another financial BANG!
- Total system replacement. This would be the simplest solution, but requires a significant financial outlay.
- Gradual migration. This could spread the financial burden, but would need both old and new systems running alongside each other.
Gradual migration will cause problems…
System dispatchers need to keep track of which mobile is on which system. It would also cause problems for mobiles… There is a lot of mobile to mobile traffic, but they would only be able to communicate with mobiles on their own system.
Another consideration is that because the talk-through base is on a remote site, there would be the significant cost of double site rental until the migration was complete.
On a final note…
Surprisingly, we still run our own rental VHF low band CBS (shared repeater)…
We had one customer who simply would not pay the costs of migrating to a new system.
The end result is they now have sole use of a “shared” system at minimal cost.
However, we’ve already made our BANG! decision… When the system incurs costs, we will simply close it down.