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Utility company extends radio comms to LTE coverage
12 February 2021

Utility company extends radio comms to LTE coverage

 

EA Networks is a Utility company in New Zealand that owns and operates the region’s electricity distribution, and an advanced fiber-optic communications network. The area EA Networks services is vast, often reaching beyond the range of their LMR network, so to keep in contact with workers at all times, EA Networks needed a communications solution that would allow roaming to cellular networks.

EA Networks is responsible for the smooth operation of its electricity and fiber-optic networks. They respond to power outages, downed lines and other service interruptions. As not all staff live or work within EA Networks’ LMR coverage area, a solution was needed to make sure workers stay safe and connected when on the job, no matter where they are. 

Keeping EA Networks Connected

In this video, produced by Logic Wireless, distributor of Tait solutions, Myles Connew, Operations Manager of EA Networks, explains how Tait Unified Vehicle helps to keep EA Networks staff connected in and outside of their vehicles, and beyond the coverage of their LMR network.

There are several reasons for us using this, but originally, the reason we chose it is because we want connectivity, we want to be in touch with the guys when they’re away from the truck.

– Miles Connew, Operations Manager of EA Networks

Tait Unified Vehicle

EA Networks chose Tait Unified Vehicle to increase the connectivity of its workforce while out in the field, both inside and outside of the vehicle. They also wanted to limit the extra devices staff had to carry, because they are often required to work up high in power poles, so it’s important not to be weighed down by extra equipment.

Tait Unified Vehicle provided the extra connectivity by creating a mobile vehicle-area-network that enables radio and broadband connectivity, including LMR, cellular and WiFi. Staff connected to the Tait Unified Vehicle network can then connect their smartphones to use PTT communications over the radio network, eliminating the need for an extra portable radio.

One option was getting everyone out with a portable radio, and the other option was Tait Unified Vehicle and connecting the phone to the truck, and since everyone carries a phone these days… the less equipment the guys can carry on them, the better.

– Miles Connew, Operations Manager of EA Networks

Voice and Data Beyond LMR Coverage

Tait Unified Vehicle increases the connectivity options of EA Networks’ workforce, but it also enables the range of their Push-To-Talk radio communications to be extended to cellular coverage, by automatically switching to cellular when the mobile radio detects a LMR connection is unavailable.

This is especially valuable to EA networks, as maintenance jobs would often see workers needed in areas outside of their LMR coverage areas. Watch Tait engineer James Collett demonstrate this automatic bearer switching feature in action in the video below:

The Tait Unified Vehicle mobile radio has the ability to make calls on both the LMR network and the cellular network, and it can automatically detect the current status of the LMR bearer to decide whether to change to cellular, or back again.

– James Collett, Lead Design Engineer, Tait Communications

Connected Like Never Before

The ability to make and receive calls in as many places as possible directly impacts the safety of workers and efficiency of operations. By choosing to equip their trucks with Tait Unified Vehicle, EA Networks expanded their coverage area to now also include cellular networks, and enabled workers to use their cellphones to communicate reliably and securely with colleagues through the talk-groups and channels they are familiar with. 

 

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