Radio Solution

Looking for a solution to the problem: I have a bunch of maintenance guys that want to communicate on the go in my factory, with connectivity into the phone system.

Typically this would be covered by a radio system, I’d think; we like to have fun toys, so we bought the iCom system and all the hardware to get it connected into our VoIP system. We’re not fans of their RoIP implementation for our business. Mostly because, having a single button on a radio makes it really cumbersome to try and use the voip connection they supply. You need to page over into the phonebook and then select your extension from a list, and it takes a minute. Setting up the phonebook is tedious, and with 100 possible phone book entries, finding the option you want is ridiculous on the small radio screen.

We’re also not big fans of having to bring the radios physically in for reprogramming if we make changes to the phonebook.

There has to be a better solution for wide area communications. I was considering WiFi voip phones or GSWave, since WiFi is pretty ubiquitous, but that might have trouble reaching out to some of our outdoor areas on the property, when the guys are driving around. I also considered Sangoma’s DECT phones, but I think the coverage area is too light for this sort of deployment.

Is there a good solution to my problem, like a great RoIP system or just cool replacement radios I don’t know about? Maybe we should invest in some outdoor wifi extenders?

The best (and unfortunately, most ridiculously expensive) one I found was by Motorola. I used it for a Limo service that ran from the airport to some of our downtown hotels. IIRC, it had five-ish presets for speed dials (dialing while driving is scary for passengers) and had a 12-button keypad. Each of the three hotels that was using the system had a button, and the drivers could dial regular numbers from their keypad.

It was 2-meter, so it had pretty good reach and didn’t require a lot of support (we had one tower on top of the tallest hotel).

Now, having said that, if I was to do it again, I wouldn’t have gone ROIP (the hotels were insistent, but I think it was more of PITA than was needed).

Using a cell phone (simple flip phones work, call them “communicators”) and a DISA call-back connection, you can get dial-tone from the system, be on the local machine, and have the level of security maintenance guys need while monitoring their activity. Your phone book is then the one from the system (instead of having to do downloads) and you get the full features of the system available.

If your WiFi is really ubiquitous, you could also go with a hand-held (vice base-station wireless) phone. A DECT network (once they get roaming between stations working well) could do what you are looking for. Like you said, getting coverage at the edges becomes a problem, but Tranzeo sells some good equipment for the corners (wireless hot spots combines with long-reach PTP radio systems) and for ‘remote’ campus systems.

A couple of ideas.

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