Analyzing Wireless Trends
Again this year, I asked Jerry Denham, BearCom’s President & CEO, for his thoughts about the coming year in wireless communications. And while some of his predictions reflect those he made a year ago, there are several new ones worthy of discussion as 2013 shifts into high gear:
1. Narrowbanding will continue to be an issue, despite the passing of the January 1, 2013 deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The massive effort to convert users of the private land mobile radio spectrum to 12.5 kHz narrowband technology is not yet complete. Thousands of two-way radio users clearly missed the deadline set by the FCC to obtain new licenses. And though many have filed applications that now are being processed and others were granted waivers, there are still thousands of users nationwide who failed to act. While there are indications that strict enforcement may be some months off, we know it will come. We’re already working to remind the “stragglers” that they need to act quickly to avoid the promised penalties.
2. Users will continue to gravitate to digital two-way radios to get the enhanced features they make possible. The narrowbanding mandate required users to re-evaluate the state of their communications systems, and no doubt plenty of them realized they were behind the times. Digital radios offer a host of advantages over analog. There are expanded voice, data, and control capabilities, lower licensing and equipment costs, advanced features, and various data applications, such as text messaging and GPS location-tracking capability. Digital equipment also offers clearer voice communications over a greater range, static and noise rejection, and enhanced battery life.
3. Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology will gain more fans among those looking for a cost-effective way to meet their broadband communications needs. For years, public safety and government organizations have been asking for a cost-effective way to meet their broadband communications needs and one that gives them a greater selection of devices and applications. With LTE they get both. Motorola Solutions has predicted that within a few years, LTE will make possible widespread availability of data adapters that will bring high-speed 4G broadband connections to laptops, in-vehicle modems that will create traveling “hotspots,” along with rugged handheld devices with advanced display and interface technologies.
4. Users will seek more and more machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions. The integrated video solution available from Motorola Solutions encompasses a mobile camera attached to a mobile DVR and the ability to connect through disparate broadband networks for viewing and uploading video. It’s just one example of the M2M solutions that are sure to grow in popularity in 2013 and beyond.
5. IP video surveillance will be an increasingly popular tool for private-sector organizations looking to protect people and property. With rapid improvements in technology and falling costs of entry, the private sector will increasing embrace video surveillance strategies that have been in place for years at public safety and government agencies. A recently released survey conducted by the Loss Prevention Research Council found that nearly two thirds of retail stores surveyed have some kind of IP-connected surveillance system. It’s not hard to imagine that other business settings, such as corporate campuses and construction sites, will get more eyes in the sky.
6. Campus security will be a focus for school administrators. Violence in America’s schools has never been in sharper focus. The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has sparked often-difficult conversations about how we can make schools safer. With the nation so divided about some of the proposed solutions, it seems likely that school administrators will look to technologies like video surveillance and two-way radio communications.