Saturday, 23 June 2012

Be Wary of Advertised Communications Distances on GMRS Packaging

Be Wary of Advertised Communications Distances on GMRS Packaging

by Phillip J. Boucher

Many manufacturers of GMRS radios are upping the advertised communications distances on their product packaging. Although this is an effective marketing technique, it is misleading to those potential purchasers who are unfamiliar with UHF frequency propagation.

As described in my book, "The Complete Guide to Canada's General Mobile Radio Service," all GMRS radios legally sold in Canada are limited by Industry Canada regulations to two watts of effective radiated output power. What this means is that the power that comes out of the antenna is a maximum of two watts, even if the radio's circuitry generates more than that. At GMRS frequency ranges of 462 and 467 MHz, this translates to about a maximum of eight to ten kilometres of effective operating range over water, and a maximum of about sixty thousand square meters/two hundred thousand square feet of operating range in a warehouse setting, and a maximum of about twenty floors of an office or apartment building.

Now some manufactures are claiming operational ranges of up to fifty-six kilometres and more under ideal conditions. However, they do not list the radio's output power nor do they indicate the actual meaning of "ideal conditions." Eight to ten kilometres is really the expected range and the ideal operating conditions for GMRS radios, and of course, any type of obstacle, especially metal, in between two or more users will reduce the effective operation range. However, if you communicate from mountain top to mountain top with nothing but air in between the radios, then yes, you could probably reach ranges up to eighty kilometres.

But the majority of users are not talking between mountain tops. They are using GMRS radios to communicate while cycling, hiking, working around the house, working on the job site or in a warehouse, or in a building. Practical, everyday uses.

I would not go so far as to say that listing these types of GMRS communications distances is irresponsible, but I do think that manufacturers should be a bit more realistic about the actual operating ranges purchasers can expect to obtain. Inflating the range only creates customer frustration when they realize that they can't even come close to the claimed operational range.

So know what you can expect when using GRMS radios.They are designed for short-range remote communications. The typical range in normal operating environments is about two to five kilometres, and operating range can be even less in areas crowded with trees, buildings, and structures.

So be wary of the advertised communications distances on GMRS packaging and remember the actual typical ranges you can expect. This will ensure that you get best use out of your equipment.

http://www.phillipjboucher.com

Phillip J. Boucher is the author of the ebook, The Complete Guide to Canada's General Mobile Radio Service, availbe from Amazon for $14.95. https://www.amazon.ca/Complete-Canadas-General-Mobile-Service-ebook/dp/B00DF8Y848

Monday, 28 May 2012

Multiple Business Uses for GMRS Radios in Canada

Multiple Business Uses for GMRS Radios in Canada 

by Phillip J. Boucher

Canadian businesses can use GMRS for lots of situations

As a Canadian business owner or operator you may be familiar with, or may even use, handheld two-way radios in your day-to-day business operations. But commercial radio equipment can be very expensive to purchase or rent, and when you factor in the added costs of licensing and frequency/channel fees, your radio expense budget can quickly get out of control.

Most business band radio equipment operates on UHF frequencies at two watts of output power. Some radios provide optional features such as selective calling, paging, power saving, and other "bells and whistles" that enhance your radio communications. But did you know that those GMRS radios that you can find at Canadian Tire, Walmart, and many other hardware, electronics, and department stores, operate on similar frequencies and at the same output power, with many of the same "bell and whistle" features that the commercial business band radios do? And with their lower cost and no requirement for any licensing or other fees, they are the perfect substitute or addition to your business.

You can use GMRS radios to not only enhance productivity and reduce costs, but you can also improve your customer service as well. For instance, within a department store, equipping each staff member with a GMRS radio means they can instantly contact each other to inquire about stock, coordinate assignments or breaks, and call for assistance in emergencies. They can contact other staff to find products for customers, or contact a supervisor for customer assistance. Restaurants can use GMRS radios for the kitchen to let servers know when orders are up, or supervise staff in various sections. Who wants to spend money using cellphones, pagers, or land-line phones simply for one employee to contact another employee across a large warehouse floor? GMRS radios will enable them contact each other instantly with no costs incurred. As for retail operations, GMRS radios for every employee means improved safety and security for both staff and customers.

A little thought into the type of business you have and how GMRS can help you do that business will elicit a multitude of uses and solutions that will save you money, improve your productivity, and contribute to better customer service. If you currently use handheld two-way radios in your business, you should investigate whether GMRS can be a total or partial substitute, or used just as a back-up communications system. If you do not use two-way radios, you should seriously consider the many uses and solutions that GMRS may be able to resolve or improve in your business.

Two-way radio communications does not have to be an expensive part of your company or business. GMRS radios are inexpensive and just as effective and efficient as similar business band equipment. You want to make money, not spend it, and GMRS radios are the perfect solution to your overall business operations.

http://www.phillipjboucher.com

Phillip J. Boucher is the author of the ebook, The Complete Guide to Canada's General Mobile Radio Service, availbe from Amazon for $14.95. https://www.amazon.ca/Complete-Canadas-General-Mobile-Service-ebook/dp/B00DF8Y848

 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Digital GMRS Radios on Their Way?

Digital GMRS Radios on Their Way?

by Phillip J. Boucher

In my constant research about GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) in Canada, I was shocked when I stumbled upon a small comment on an obscure section of a website (which I will not divulge) that seems to suggest that the next evolution in GMRS radios will be the switch from analogue to digital. From a radio user's point of view, this is a good thing. The use of digital communications in commercial, public service, and Amateur Radio is seeing an increase. Digital can be a more effective mode of communications and is usually less susceptible to atmospheric interference. Much more data can be crammed into a digital signal than an analogue one. 

But playing the devil's advocate, GMRS digital communications presents a few issues. First is the price. You can now get a pair of full two-watt out GMRS radios for under fifty dollars, and sometimes quite under that price. Digital circuitry is expensive and GMRS digital radios will cost more. The major issue that I have with GMRS digital signals is compatibility. Digital-only radios will not be compatible with the current analogue radios. This presents extreme safety issues if GMRS is being used in an emergency. Unless these radios are switchable between analogue and digital, we would effectively have two sub-versions of the General Mobile Radio Service here in Canada.

The whole aspect of radio communications is compatibility and effectiveness. Even public service users of digital-only radio equipment have the ability to either switch over to analogue communications or have a separate analogue radio system. Is someone who buys a pair of GMRS digital radios also going to purchase a pair of analogue GMRS radios simply as a back-up? I highly doubt it. Hopefully the introduction of digital GMRS radios is done with public safety in mind. It's important to note that in a emergency situation, using a two-way radio to get help is only as effective as the stations that can actually hear the signal.

http://www.phillipjboucher.com

Phillip J. Boucher is the author of the ebook, The Complete Guide to Canada's General Mobile Radio Service, availbe from Amazon for $14.95. https://www.amazon.ca/Complete-Canadas-General-Mobile-Service-ebook/dp/B00DF8Y848