Motorola opens gateway for Sprint Nextel users

Motorola has added an interface for Sprint's Nextel Direct Connect push-to-talk service to its IP radio gateway, enabling Direct Connect users to talk directly with any land mobile radios using the Project 25 standard.

Motorola developed its MOTOBRIDGE IP gateway several years ago to enable first-responder agencies using different types of radio equipment to talk with each other. The new connectivity in the gateway means that now any of the 20 million Direct Connect users can communicate with users of other radio systems, either on a day-to-day basis or during an emergency.

"This solution allows for full control of the Direct Connect Network," enabling either private calls or advanced talk group features, said Scot Smith, Sprint's public sector industry solutions manager. These features include creating a talk group of up to 200 individuals who can be accessed with a single button push.

The limited ability of different emergency response agencies to communicate with each other during incidents has long hampered cooperation and coordination between agencies. Shared local and regional networks can help alleviate the problem, but they can be expensive to implement and do not address the issue of users from outside the region.

One response to this has been the move to standardized radio systems that can allow greater interoperability. The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials in 1993 developed the Project 25 suite of over-the-air standards for interoperable digital radio to let analog and digital radios communicate with each other in the 800-MHz band. Compliant products began to appear by the end of the 1990s.

New gateways can enable connections between almost any type of radio systems, by bridging them over IP networks.

Rather than using a cellular network, Direct Connect uses a nationwide digital trunked radio network to carry voice communications. The handsets can call any other user on the network with the push of a button, either over the network connection or with a direct radio link in a five-mile line of sight. Each user has a unique identifier, and public safety agencies can get a priority-connect service that will move their calls to the head of the queue during emergencies.

The MOTOBRIDGE is a rack-mounted soft switch that sits in the user's network, with a radio interface on one side and an IP connection on the other. The gateway has a Direct Connect identifier that lets the user contact it and link with users of other systems.

William Jackson writes for Government Computer News, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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