Webinar presenter Paul Whitfield answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Creating Reliable, Efficient Communications without Breaking the Bank: Using Radio over IP for LEAs. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Which applications can connect with Omnitronics?
Paul Whitfield: Which applications? I’m not sure exactly what you are asking. For Omnitronics equipment, we can connect with pretty much any manufacturer’s radios providing they have a 4 wire E&M interface. We connect with most of the radios such as Motorola, Kenwood, and any of the major radio manufacturers.
In terms of digital technologies, we can communicate with the standard technologies such as P25, DMR, Tetra. We have proprietary solutions to talk to some of the manufacturers such as Kenwood, Hytera, etc. We have a huge library of different protocols.
In terms of dispatch systems, we have our own dispatch systems that will talk to our Radio over IP gateways.
Most Voice recorders will work with any standards-based Radio over IP gateways. Omnitronics partners with a company called Eventide, but we work with quite a few other voice recorder vendors as well. It was a very general question. So, I’m not sure if I answered that. Maybe we go next question?
Audience Question: When connecting over IP networks, is a VPN implementation essential?
Paul Whitfield: Oh, that’s a good question. It is not essential. However, quite often, it solves a lot of the problems that I was talking about to do with network address translation. So, it is not essential but it can solve a lot of the problems to do with networking and can be a very useful tool. There are, particularly if you’re using the Internet, a lot of networking-related issues that just go away when you use a VPN.
Audience Question: Can RoIP be used to link to different systems like High-Terra or DMR three trunking or Motorola Capacity Max?
Paul Whitfield: Yes, it definitely can. Once you start talking about digital technologies, you need Radio over IP gateways that are capable of connecting into those system. There are a few wrinkles to sort out when you do that. Yes, basically the idea of connecting different digital and analog radio technologies together using RoIP is a fundamental function of the technology.
Audience Question: Is radio over IP private? Can anyone listen in on a conversation, or do the voice comes encrypted?
Paul Whitfield: Radio over IP can include encryption, it is a standard part of most products to have encryption, and particularly with law enforcement, voice audio is one of those things that’s very sensitive. So yes, RoIP can be encrypted. There’s kind of two levels of security. If you are using your own private network, you can prevent people from listening to the packets in the first place, and then the second level is to provide encryption. Once you start talking about digital radio technology, of course, things like P25 build encryption right into the radio protocol. That encryption can then be extended over the radio or over the IP gateway. Technology like AES encryption are pretty much standard with any type of Radio over IP gateway. Particularly, if you start making use of any sort of public infrastructure, it’s kind of essential to encrypt your audio.
Audience Question: If one agency in a jurisdiction converts to Radio over IP, does that mean that all of the other agencies that we work with also need to migrate to radio over IP too?
Paul Whitfield: It doesn’t mean that! Radio over IP allows you to connect your radios together. Using RoIP doesn’t make any difference to how the radio over the air works. The radio over the air works exactly the same. It’s the same as if it was physically connected. As a result, there is no reason for a whole agency to convert to RoIP or multiple agencies to convert to using RoIP. Of course, if you do get the other agency to convert at the same time, then you get added advantages. You can be more flexible about how the two agencies connect together. So, there’s no requirement, but there are some advantages if both do.
Audience Question: When an agency switches over to radio over an IP system, do they typically run a radio-based system running concurrently for some period of time?
Paul Whitfield: It depends on how they’re implementing it and what they’re doing. Quite often, you can just do a quick cutover. You can put all the Radio over IP infrastructure in, do some tests, and cut over straightaway. Typically, RoIP is a fairly well-established technology. Once you’ve tested the system you can cut over and start using it straight away. There’s no real need to run it in parallel with what you’ve got. I guess the other thing that’s important to remember is, whatever you do with the radio over IP, it’s not going to actually affect how the radios work over the air. You always have the ability to still use your radio network in the same way you always have. This is just adding an extra level of functionality to it.
Audience Question: First, she’s asking, can the system connect to existing Mutual Aid radio systems such as Motorola Regional Grid?
Paul Whitfield: All right, I think the answer to that is yes. I’m not actually exactly familiar with what with that particular system. But yes, just generally the whole idea is there are multiple ways we can connect into a radio network. If you’re using a physical connector or something like the trigger radio setup I described in the talk, where you use a mobile radio to connect to your radio network via a IP network. There are generally ways of connecting into radio networks that will work. I guess. I don’t know the specific details of that, so maybe if you reach out after the webinar, we could talk more about the specifics of what will be required. But in general, you can always connect to a radio network. The simplest way that that generally always works is to use a mobile radio connected to a radio gateway. We tend to call that a donor radio set up and that generally will work for any radio technology.
Audience Question: Can it be used for dispatch console-type applications and tied to the physical radios on that network?
Paul Whitfield: Yes, Almost all the major dispatch band does now include radio over IP technology as a standard part of the dispatch solution.
The answer to that is definitely, yes.
Audience Question: Do you help agencies right or find grants to help pay for these migrations or the technology?
Paul Whitfield: We’re outside my area of expertise there. I’m sure that our salespeople will be as helpful as they can. I know that our sales team in America does work closely with law enforcement agencies. So, I suspect the answer is yes, but I’m a technical person, not a salesperson. If you reach out, I’m sure we can put you in touch with someone that, even if they can’t help, I’m sure they have contacts that can.
Audience Question: What are those key benefits, again, for radio over IP versus traditional radio? And probably, more importantly, how do I get my boss on board with this type of process?
Paul Whitfield: Well, I guess the key advantage advantages are, depending on our application, it can save quite a bit of money, particularly if you’ve got leased lines or dedicated communication setups that are an ongoing cost. So, you can save money!
Flexibility, RoIP solutions are very flexible. They allow you to implement solutions that are future-proof and that allow you to connect multiple things like dispatch and voice recording, and maybe give you access to push to talk over cellular. By putting in Radio over IP, you set yourself up to use all those new technologies.
It provides for more reliability because you eliminate single points of failure in your network. You can use IT tools to monitor the state of your network. RoIP is a proven technology that’s been around for a long time now with multiple vendors that provide solutions. So, I think it’s a fairly stable technology that in a lot of cases, can save you quite a bit of time and money.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Creating Reliable, Efficient Communications without Breaking the Bank: Using Radio over IP for LEAs.