to bring in a full up trunk radio system to handle large emergencies, and there is some merit to that. But for the most part, for most of the country, a much less expensive methodology could be had."
He said there are products available now that fill this need. Amateur radio units cost about $300, and it's rumored that a couple of manufacturers will unveil new, multiband, multimode radios at this year's International Wireless Communications Expo in Las Vegas.
"One of the manufacturers was talking about a military style or at least a migration from the military, that's an intra-team radio that's sometimes known as an MBITER radio that [covers] 30 MHz through 512 [MHz] continuous tuning with digital, analog, wideband, narrow band and encryption," Rauter said. "That's a standard-issue handy talky called a PRC-148."
Read the Label
Some manufacturers are peddling Project-25 compatible systems that are advertised as interoperability solutions. But, Rauter said, it's not that easy.
"Project 25 does not address the band issues," he said. "Interoperability has to start with spectrum. Project 25 started out as a digital on-the-air interface, which they were fairly successful in implementing, but some of the manufacturers would put in proprietary options, which would make them nonstandard, meaning you can't put Brand A on a Brand X system, and this has been a problem."
Rauter said he'd like to see labels on these systems, much like the food label on a jar of peanut butter that lists exactly what's in it.
"The manufacturers want to position themselves to be exclusive," Rauter said. "If you go back 18 years when Project 25 started, it was supposed to reduce the price of radios. They're not going down, they're going up."
Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management magazine. He lives in Orangevale, Calif., with his daughter, Ellie, and son, Ronan. He relaxes by fly fishing on the Truckee River for big, wild trout.