Liverpool’s Icom Digital Trunked Radio Network – Future Proofing its Customers Needs
What happens when an old UHF CBS system needs replacing and you have an important list of blue chip customers to look after? That was the question which was faced by Radio communication specialists Northwest Radio. The answer was to install a modern Icom IDAS digital radio trunk system and provide a superior service to its customers. The Liverpool based company selected an Icom IDAS trunked radio system, installing digital radio repeaters in the centre of Liverpool, providing enhanced radio coverage to its customer base around the Liverpool area. The IDAS system serves a high profile range of business customers from those in transport to the security sector providing many digital benefits including better audio quality, wider communication coverage, and a higher level of security than the previous system. Paul Benson, Technical Director of NRC Ltd said, ’we had a standalone 3 channel UHF CBS system which was reaching the limits of its performing capability. We looked at MPT1327 trunked systems from various manufacturers. The trouble with those was that they are quite old solutions…we wanted something modern that was future proof.’ ’The Icom IDAS trunked system provided us with the right solution. Now our customers get the digital voice service, and we are looking to add other services such as data transfer and GPS tracking. One of our main criteria for selecting IDAS was that we can add extra services with firmware upgrades. We are hopeful that in the future, software will be developed to allow us to monitor audio quality and enabling networks over the air.’ Various business sectors are being served by the IDAS trunking scheme including two major bus companies; Arriva and Stagecoach. The scheme also serves Liverpool University, several security companies, a Facility Management company and a taxi firm. The majority of users use Icom digital handportables except for the security companies that require mobiles for patrolling and the taxi company that require mobiles for primary communication. Northwest Radio worked closely with its customers to provide a seamless changeover from the old CBS system to the new digital system. Implementation of the scheme took just a day with 2-3 days spent testing the system integrity. The work was completed over a weekend to ensure minimal impact to customer services. So what have been the benefits of the new digital trunked system?
Paul Benson said, ‘Our customers now enjoy clearer audio communication (compared to the previous analogue) over a wider geographical area than before. The excellent audio quality of digital improves communication and as a result users can exchange information more effectively, reliably and faster than before. Furthermore, IDAS has also enabled effective communications in blackspots, where their former analogue system could not cover.’ He added, ‘The new system also provides our customers with more secure communications than our old CBS system. The IDAS system provides a digital voice scrambler using a 15-bit key (about 32,000 keys) for encryption as standard on top of the digital modulation/demodulation. Avoiding this eavesdropping was also one of the customer’s foremost needs.’ Paul Benson added, ‘We are proud to be operating a radio system offering an excellent service to a wide range of customers. By installing an IDAS trunked system, our customers gain from the many operational benefits that Digital radio provides as well as new services and features in the future.’