8 things to consider
1. Do your current channels meet pending government regulations?
Government regulators are implementing mandates to improve radio spectrum efficiency, requiring network operators to “narrowband” – migrate from wideband 25 kHz operation to 12.5 kHz (or 6.25 kHz) equivalent operation.
While meeting compliance may seem daunting, it presents an opportunity to shift from analog operation to digital, open standards-based technologies such as P25 Phase 2 and DMR. Choosing P25 or DMR may allow you to use your existing frequencies.
Narrowbanding compliance does not always mean you have to migrate to digital technology. Older analog equipment that is narrowband-capable may comply, if it is re-programmed before the deadline.
2. How important are genuine open standards and vendor choice?
Because all of the open standards vendors design and manufacture according to the same rules, with genuine open standards technology, you know everything is going to work together. The result is effective, efficient, interoperable communications.
You can pick the best solution from a broader range of options because you are not trapped by a single vendor. Increased competition and choice through the system life-cycle procurement will deliver best value.
3. Can you reuse any of your current equipment?
Reusing equipment is possible in some circumstances.
- Some digital technologies such as P25 and DMR are compatible with your existing analog systems and equipment, enabling a phased migration, and full return on your current investment.
- Site and antenna equipment – power supplies, batteries, antennas and racks – are not technology-dependent so may be reused, depending of course on power consumption, frequency band and compatibility of new radio equipment.
- If you are migrating within the same frequency band (for example UHF to UHF or VHF to VHF) you may be able to upgrade some infrastructure and terminals, rather than replace them.
- Specialist dispatch and other back-office systems can be retained, or migrated if that suits your operating procedures and timelines.
4. Will your Capex and Opex budgets cover a single-stage migration?
When replacing an existing system it is worth considering whether you need to access all the benefits immediately, or to grow over time. Without a robust, managed migration plan, replacing your existing system can lead to extra cost and practical challenges such as site space, frequency availability and risk of interrupted operations during changeover.
For existing systems, a staged migration can deliver the benefits you need right now, and provide a base to build upon as your needs evolve. Capital cost is reduced by leveraging existing infrastructure, reducing deployment timescales and aligning with your processes and priorities. A staged approach means changeovers occur with minimal down-time and service outage.
5. Can you guarantee your communications during a network migration?
Sound planning will minimize the risk of a communications outage during changeover, and reduce construction delays and cost overruns. Involving an experienced, trusted advisor to analyse potential risk, then schedule and manage the project end-to-end will lessen the chance of an inefficient or insecure network, even temporarily.
Critical to a seamless migration is the involvement and buy-in of your people. Your migration plan should include the schedule and budget to educate and train everyone who uses or maintains any aspect of your radio network.
6. Do you have the specialist resources to implement your migration?
When it comes to designing and deploying your new network, migration will involve a vast range of tasks and projects – from coverage analysis to site selection and building, project and program management to commissioning, technical training and software upgrades. Working with an experienced team will make this process simple and efficient.
Impending migration is an opportunity to restructure or refocus your existing technical support areas. By refocusing on core business and operations-critical activities, a strategic re-allocation can bring business benefits and retain the intellectual property and investment within your existing technical resources. It may also provide the opportunity to advance other projects that require this unique internal skill base.
7. Can your communications partner work with your operational processes and third party equipment?
A new network – even a new technology – does not necessarily mean that all your tried and tested operational processes and equipment must change. Nor should it necessarily dictate your choices of new equipment.
However, migration presents an opportunity to update processes in line with new network capability, so your process and operations are not limited. A communications partner who listens and understands your business will provide choice, flexibility and innovation on your behalf.
8. Will your communications partner be with you for the long haul?
Successful migrations require a trusted communications partner who will listen, evaluate, recommend and advise to maximize your investment, then manage its implementation, and support your network once it is fully deployed. Demonstrating industry experience and best practice, the right partner will continue to work alongside you, now and in the future.