Push-to-Talk, 2 Way Radios (“Walkie-talkies”) and the Rise of IP Based Telephony. Is It Time for You to Consider IP Communication for your Mobile Workforce?
2-way radios have been around for many years. They allow 2 people to communicate quickly and clearly over a distance with great reliability. Invaluable when the pressure is on.
Although the rise of mobile telephony has presented a bit of a challenge to 2-way radios, GSM networks have traditionally rather let themselves down in environments where reliability is crucial, simply by being extremely, well, unreliable. Also, the running cost of mobiles is significant, and when you add in the fact that employees are always likely to be tempted to use them for nefarious purposes, the good old fashioned “walkie-talkie” makes huge sense for voice communication in industries like hospitality and security.
For those who may not be aware, 2-way radios are still commonly used in industries where being able to talk to someone NOW may be of life or death importance. This is basically because the technology “just works”. You push a button, and get a crystal clear, instant connection to the required person at the other end. When was the last time you could say that about your £800 smartphone? A 2-way radio channel will also NOT be shut down in the event of a terrorist attack or national disaster. We rest our case.
But the mobile device, especially the smartphone, suddenly presents a new challenge to traditional 2-way radio technology from a slightly unexpected angle. Forget GSM, and think IP telephony.
The idea of using a mobile phone to make an IP call, specifically designed to make and receive calls using the traditional GSM network, in many ways just seems a bit odd. But smartphones have suddenly become pretty good at switching between voice and data networks to make voice calls. BT Mobile in the UK has been doing it for a few years now, and with the genuinely improved coverage of 4g, HSDPA and 3g in the UK, achieving the networks’ long over-promised 99% coverage is now much closer to reality. When you add in Wi-Fi coverage, and the fact that a smartphone can switch between Wi-Fi and GSM networks without a hitch to continue an IP call, suddenly you are challenging the reliability of a 2-way radio to make and receive voice communications. The relatively short distances covered by traditional 2-way radio also has the potential to become an international call when you use IP.
The other traditional benefits of 2-way radios are also maintained. Secure, reliable, instant communication is offered via a smartphone’s PTT (push-to-talk) button, and the cost is low, because you are ideally using your own corporate Wi-Fi network or a data bundle. Way cheaper than traditional mobile voice bundles.
The cost-benefits are further enhanced when you consider that many security and hospitality businesses will already be using smartphones as part of a remote worker management solution. This will be a crucial everyday part of their business that they will be using in addition to 2-way radios. Well, suddenly 2 cumbersome devices become one. All that is required is some additional software or an app and a smartphone with a PTT button, but most enterprise level (especially rugged) smartphones will have that anyway.
Then you can add in all the additional benefits of VOIP calling and messaging. Such as voice messaging (including voice-to-text), on and offline availability alerts, queued messaging, accountability (of course everything is logged and recorded in a management suite) and the ability to generate open and closed work-groups for team communication. Think WhatsApp here, but a solution that is 100% designed to support a business rather than our teenage off-spring.
Concerned about security? Remind yourself of the story recently where WhatsApp got beaten up simply because the UK intelligence agencies were struggling to infiltrate the encrypted communications of terrorist cells who were using WhatsApp to message each other prior to the recent London terrorist attacks. So yes, your business communications will be 100% secure.
Interested in using 2-way PTT over IP in your business? Talk to us about how you can keep your existing estate of traditional 2-way radios, by using them to work in conjunction with any newly implemented IP-based PTT solution.
Call TourTraxUK and ask for Richard Dickety on 07779 563 678 or call the office on 01634 757 088 if you have questions or need any impartial advice.