By Doug Clark
Throughout the history of communication technology for first responders, first responders have had a difficult task in making do with what the technology at the time could offer. Only recently has technology evolved to tackle the significant limitations and negative aspects that previously hindered their ability to communicate effectively. Land Mobile Radios (LMR) have been the traditional communication solution used by first responders for many decades. However, these handheld radios were big, bulky and costly to carry around, making them cumbersome for everyday use. When you’re wearing 60 pounds of gear and need to communicate with your commander during an emergency, bulky and heavy radios are less than ideal.
Not to mention Push-to-Talk (PTT) radio coverage provided by LMR technology was often limited to a short distance and was prone to no coverage zones, where communication signals would not work, or be weak and unreliable. The costs were high if mission critical communications were disrupted by a no coverage zone. When you’re in a life-or-death situation, reliable communication could quite literally be your lifeline.
The limitations and negative aspects of LMR technology have been a source of frustration for first responders, dispatchers, and for their command staff. In too many cases, first responders encountered problems with their communication system including reliability, usability and the lack of interoperability between other agencies. These challenges often resulted in communication breakdowns, delayed response times and challenged operations.
Recognizing the need for improved communication options as well as advancements in technology becoming available, first responders have begun to transition to mission critical PTT over Cellular networks. This transition offers a range of advantages compared to LMR technology. Devices are smaller, lighter and more affordable, making them easier to carry and use in the field. More importantly, the cellular coverage provided by these networks proves to be superior to radio coverage, offering nationwide reach and reducing the limitations caused by no coverage zones and limited range.
Until now, selected mission critical PTT over Cellular devices have mostly been ruggedized Smartphones from companies such as Samsung, Sonim and Kyocera. They are capable PTT devices but because they are Smartphones, often organizations want to ‘lock down’ or limit the device functionality to only apps that are needed for the job. It is important to note that with the transition to mission critical PTT over Cellular networks, the usability of mission critical PTT over Cellular devices remains a top concern for first responders. Siyata Mobile Inc., a global developer and vendor of mission critical PTT over Cellular handsets and accessories, has taken a different approach. Siyata has been making waves in the industry with its products that cater to first responders and other industries that rely on strong communication channels, like schools, utilities, logistics and field service workers.
Siyata’s SD7 mission critical PTT handset is not a Smartphone. Rather, it is designed to meet the needs of first responders seeking a reliable and easy-to-use communication tool. It is a great choice for those transitioning from two-way radios since it looks and functions similarly and it requires minimal training, providing an almost seamless transition from older LMR technology to cutting-edge PTT over cellular technology. It operates nationwide wherever there is cellular coverage on FirstNet’s network or on other networks, it supports Mission Critical communications standards, and it is far less expensive than LMR handheld radios. If first responders enter into weak cellular coverage areas, then Siyata’s own line of cellular signal boosters can improve cellular reception there to keep its SD7 handsets connected.
Siyata’s unique approach of offering an affordable mission critical PTT over cellular handset that looks and operates like a two-way radio may allow first responder agencies to equip more of their staff than ever before with a reliable and easy-to-use handset to keep more staff connected. With a track record as a pioneer in the industry, and with solutions catering to various uses in areas with and without strong cellular coverage, Siyata has earned a solid reputation for reliability and versatility. And if you’re a first responder, you understand how important reliability and versatility are.