The PTT over Cellular Industry developed based on the PMR, IT and Mobile industries. The PTT over Cellular Industry focuses on delivering features and benefits, which match the end user’s requirements. Above all, this drives better solutions with more benefits at more affordable prices, faster to the market. In the US the POC industry began in earnest around 10 years ago. However Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are quickly catching up with the help of iPTT.
The IT Industry
The IT Industry has continuously increased the velocity and frequency of product launches. New products are announced every 6-12 months which is driven by micro-processor updates. Software follows a similar cycle with major updates every 6-12 months, with continuous improvements and minor updates launched more frequently. This is very similar to the smartphone market, which combines the IT hardware and software characteristics. In addition to the microprocessor and software improvements, upgrades normally also includes a better smartphone screen and camera.
IT pricing is based on the classic pricing model – early adopters pay more for the latest technology (which is the sweet spot where manufacturers generally earn more money). However, given the speed of product development and improvements, as well as competition, the price curve quickly starts declining.
The IT market is more competitive than most. More major players fighting for the top spot drives innovation and means competitors automatically lose market share if they stand still and don’t innovate. Very similar to a herd of zebra, who, if they stand still, they will be eaten by the lions (or any other predator for that matter).
In conclusion, this is the reason why competition is good and should be encouraged. Competition brings the best technology with the most benefits at the best price matching the user’s requirements and gives the end user better choices.
The Mobile Industry
The main focus of Mobile Network Operators (MNO) used to be selling talk time. This changed when SMS became available with the first SMS message sent in the UK in 1992, saying Merry Christmas. Adoption of SMS was quick both by end users and MNOs. MNOs now encouraged SMS with Packages which incorporated talk time and SMS, and SMS took off on a huge scale.
POC was introduced around 10 years ago, but the MNOs in EMEA had no interest in selling data. Similarly, combined with slow infrastructure, which provided blisteringly slow 2.4kbps (1G), it took some time for the MNOs to pick up and begin innovating to improve speeds. As speeds increase, and MNOs invest in infrastructure capabilities, user behaviour also began changing and users began demanding more data, faster. Above all, the MNOs enabled these improvements through technical innovations with a significant impact on their strategies and business plans. As Talk Time and SMS began to fade, data consumption exploded. To this day, data consumption continues to increase with internet of things (IOT) and user behaviour embracing these capabilities.
Infrastructure costs of Mobile Networks are shared amongst all the users and therefore these costs become relatively lower per user, the more users use the infrastructure.
The Professional Two-Way Radio Communication (PMR) Industry
The Professional Two-Way Radio Communications Industry is the oldest of the 3 Industries and has developed a few nicknames e.g. Walkie Talkie, Radio, LMR, PMR, NXDN, DPMR, DMR, PTT, TETRA and P25. The PMR market is stable with small incremental improvements in terms of real benefits to the users over a long period of years.
The Professional Two-Way communication industry has been characterised by a very small number of dominant manufacturers in this industry. As a result of limited competition, innovation was not the foremost driver of business.
The life cycles are long, with major innovations introduced approximately every 6-8 years, with mid-life cycle upgrades every 3-4 years*. This is like the car industry and allows the manufacturer to capitalise on the investment made in the development of a new model/product and it protects the market price (and therefore return on investment for the manufacturer), however it also stifles innovation.
What are the Costs of a PMR System?
Costs have been significant, from a Customer’s perspective, especially when requiring two-way communication over a wider area as infrastructure (repeaters and the solutions which connect these) are significant capital assets.
If you add maintenance, repairs, OFCOM licenses, service and support to the mix, can make it hard for customers to calculate return on investment (ROI). This makes the investment case for a professional two-way radio communication system difficult.
Open Standards Are Good, But There Are Pitfalls
You’ve decided which PMR/LMR/DMR Professional Two-Way Radio Communications System you want to buy. You now source this system from a reputable radio reseller and you’re ready. But….
Most Professional Two-Way Systems rely on open standards however the code plugs are normally owned and protected by the person or company you bought the system from. This protects the intellectual property and you should make sure you’ve read the finer print when it comes to code plugs. It is very similar when it comes to infrastructure and repeater set up.
A few resellers run their own local systems, however the capital costs of the equipment and infrastructure have to be borne by a small number of end user, i.e. it is a very significant cost per customer/radio.
The development and implementation of open standards, is in it’s own right the way forward, however the interpretations of these standards as well as bespoke code plugs, further segments the market, ultimately driving customers’ cost up.
And finally, there are inherent limitations in the speed we can send and receive data at, limits the technology roadmap. This is very similar to the 56kb modems used 25 years ago in the IT industry.
The PTT over Cellular Industry
Push to Talk over Cellular has a few nicknames e.g. Push to Talk over Cellular, PTT, Nationwide PTT, Broadband PTT, POC, PTTOC, Nationwide Radio, Broadband Radio etc.
The PTT over Cellular industry is a hybrid between the PMR and IT Industries and leverages the strengths of the Mobile Networks.
Why do POC Radio Terminals look and work like PMR Radios? The answer is simple: PMR Radios have been around for a long time, and this is the preferred form factor.
Just like the IT industry, POC terminals continue to evolve as new technologies become commercially viable.
The POC industry adapts Professional Two-Way Radio capabilities continuously. Because POC terminals are software defined, POC Solutions are quickly changed in line with new requirements using OTAP (Over The Air Programming).
POC uses the Mobile Network infrastructure, which already has wide global adoption (and a huge user base). This in turn leads to relatively small infrastructure costs, compared to those of a dedicated Two-Way Radio system.
The Future of PTT over Cellular
This is the reason for established manufacturers of Two-Way Radios now adding POC to their product portfolio – some later than others, however the writing is on the wall. Above all, we believe the growth opportunity over the next 10 years is in POC industry.
POC is a disruptive force, which has taken some years to mature outside of the US. But the wait is over and there are very compelling POC solutions available on the market today.
Lowering Latency (delay) and infrastructure costs combined with changes the Mobile Network Operators’ (MNO) business model (from talk time and SMS to data) means PTT Radio Solutions are operational and add real benefits to the end users.
Why PTT over Cellular Costs are Lower
Using the MNOs’ networks also means shared infrastructure which lowers the cost of infrastructure for the end user.
We push changes from the server straight to the POC Radio terminals, which avoids expensive down-time, e.g. when radios are being re-programmed. We also don’t charge for changes we can make on the server and we provide remote technical support free of charge as well.
Why Should You Consider PTT over Cellular from iPTT?
The three main components of our PTT over Cellular solutions are:
- Hardware (POC Terminals and servers)
- Software (on terminals, servers and apps)
- Mobile Network Connectivity (SIMs)
Our focus areas:
- Ease of use – you can take the PTT over Cellular Radio terminal and begin using it immediately
- Affordability – ensuring ROI calculations are easy, costs are predictable and provide bang for the buck.
- Reliability – resilience and redundancy in the design of the IT infrastructure.
- Service – the iPTT POC business model is based on users renewing their SIMs and licenses annually. We need to earn this renewal, so we do everything we can to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.
- Support – from checking coverage in an area to setting up a full POC Solution.
- Coverage – we will always recommend our cost effective multi-network SIMs. These SIMs leverage the networks of all four MNOs in the UK.
- International capabilities. We’ve tested our POC solution across the UK, Africa and Middle East with remarkable results.
Want to know more?
We hope, you now have a greater understanding of the PTT over Cellular Industry.
If you’d like to discuss how iPTT can help you, please
Call +44 (0)1202 240 366
About the Author
Hans Becker has 25 years experience in the IT and Server Industry and 12 years in the Two-Way Communication Industry. In other words, Hans has a solid foundation for the observations made in this paper.
This paper expresses Hans’s observations and opinions.
*for consumer (primarily 446 / Licensefree radios) the product life cycle is shorter – we primarily refer to the professional two-way radio market. 446 / Licensefree Radios are generally used for outdoor hobby activities and some shops and do not require OFCOM licensing.
© iPTT and international Push to Talk Ltd. 2020