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Cell Phones vs Radios for Security

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  • #16
    I agree with Minneapolis. The direct connect on the nextel's is a really good feature. When you pay the Nextel bill, not only are you getting cell phone coverage for your officers, you're also getting two way radios, on or off the network.
    If you fail to plan, plan to fail.

    "People look to you to dig them out of life threatening dung - that is an awesome responsibility and should be honoured with your blood and sweat in preparation for the day when you may have to work very hard to save someone you might not even know or like. If you are terrible at your job, somebody gets blinded/maimed/disfigured or killed."-Slack


    • #17
      Originally posted by tacscuba View Post
      I agree with Minneapolis. The direct connect on the nextel's is a really good feature. When you pay the Nextel bill, not only are you getting cell phone coverage for your officers, you're also getting two way radios, on or off the network.
      One other not-so-small advantage of using any PTT (push-to-talk) cellular radio system (and all cell phones are radios) is connectivity to the police by using just one unit. Another is that the PTT system will not involve licensing headaches. In some areas, unless you trunk off an already-licensed system, licensing can be a real chore and it gets worse if you start talking about towers and repeaters.

      You can also achieve Internet access using the PTT phone, although you're talking fairly pricey service contracts in some cases. It looks to me like these prices are going to be coming down in the coming months as 4th-gen WLAN services are deployed and competition heats up. The long-term trend in WLAN technologies is to provide "Internet access everywhere, to everyone" and this is a VERY good thing for our industry. It's happening in other parts of the world faster than it is here due to our ancient, convoluted regulatory processes.

      In order to achieve public safety access with 2-way radios, you would either have to work out a deal for a shared frequency (and then select radios capable of implementing such), which is pretty difficult to achieve in many places, or carry separate cell phones! Now you're back to juggling two radios...and maybe a pager too. The PTT phone can do all three plus the Internet (especially text messaging) as noted above.

      Finally, this in particular with respect to Internet/data access: Text messaging is the main thing you need portable units to do. Do not lay off onto your portable comm units chores that can and should be handled by WLAN-enabled mobile laptops.

      I would strongly suggest field testing whatever system you are thinking about using. There are communications companies that will rent you whatever you are thinking about using (many of them rent out Nextels as well as 2-ways) and satisfy yourself about several things:

      1. Coverage across your security service area...and your PLANNED service area if you have future expansion in mind.

      2. Ease of use of different features of the units by officers in the field. If you live in cold climes, test the units while wearing gloves. Prioritize the features your officers will use most and be sure to test those, if nothing else.

      3. The quality of accessories such as shoulder mikes. Some are simply crappy. If there are range-increasing accessories such as vehicle-mount antennas, etc., and you want to use them, try them out too.

      4. Battery longevity/recharge issues under reasonably heavy use.

      You also need to do some research about the robustness and availability of the overall carrier system during area-wide disaster situations relevant to your particular area. No comm system is the least bit of good if it fails you when you need it most, whether it's cell towers going down or trunked radio towers/repeaters.

      On the last issue, once you have chosen and acquired your primary comm system, begin to think immediately about redundancy, at least in some rudimentary form. This does not have to be "redundant portables" in all cases (i.e., 2-way and cell phone), although it might be. A mesh network installed in your mobile units, for instance, can be configured with applications that provide redundancy for your "voice comm" system, while giving you substantial "everyday use" data capabilities of its own.
      Last edited by SecTrainer; 10-31-2007, 10:28 AM.
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      • #18
        Out Patrol Division uses a Trunked UHF system. Most of our Patrol Officers have Nextel that we use just to chew the fat on.


        • #19
          Cell Phones

          I work for haspital police. We use both, a Nextel and a two way. The only problem we have that all 25 officers have a direct connect number each. So you can only reach one person at a time. But we also have a group number, the problem here is if you want to get a hold of veryone at the same time, you have to scroll trough and find the #. Sometimes you just don't have enough time to do this and that why we still use two ways.


          • #20
            At the facility where I work, we utilize two-way radios with voice encryption. The ability to instantly communicate with a co-worker is priceless (sometimes you don't have time or the ability to talk on a cell phone).


            • #21
              One site I'm aware of has basic 'non-commercial' 2-way & a cordless phone system, because of environmental factors there are 'dead spots' where neither have sufficient reception/access to colleagues... necessity requires the SOs to also carry personal/private cell phones

              If it were up to me... I'd choose the commercial grade VHF option everytime, cell towers have a habit of getting overloaded in times of crisis (as already stated).

              I should also add that when SHTF, it's dramatically easier to 'key-up' a portable radio than attempt to negotiate through the phone menu to select the number you require (all whilst keeping one eye on the offender)
              Last edited by Maelstrom; 12-24-2007, 12:59 AM.
              "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give" - Winston Churchill