7/23/2004 - In a recent study conducted by Venture Development Corporation (VDC), Software-Defined Radio: North American and European Market Demand Analysis, 88% of U.S. public safety respondents indicated that Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology could help solve the numerous interoperability issues experienced when trying to communicate between departments.
Because they employ radios that operate on various frequencies and use several different protocols, most public safety branches have no means of direct radio-to-radio communication. Police, fire and local government personnel resort to swapping radios between departments or transporting communication gateways to the site to solve interoperability issues, causing unnecessary delay and confusion in critical situations.
When similar interoperability issues were identified within the United States military, the DoD established the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program. The program quickly recognized that Software Defined radios could supply a highly diverse installed base of systems with support for multiple protocols and frequency bands, and alleviate these problems. Procurement of SDR devices for the military is currently underway, with plans to replace all of the military's radios. In fact, the DoD plans to spend an estimated $4.7 billion incorporating SDR devices and technology over the next four years.
So where is SDR in the public safety world? Unfortunately, no commercialized products exist at this time for several reasons:
VDC's Datacom and Telecom Practice Director, Chad Hart, agrees that, "...it will probably be several years before SDR penetrates the public safety community, however, successful military implementations and demand from public safety agencies will promote product development. SDR is more than a buzzword - it is a real technology, solving complex communication problems in critical environments."
Founded in 1971, VDC is a technology market research and consulting firm that specializes in industrial and commercial electronics, computing, communications, software and power systems markets.
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