Skycom is one of the largest and most significant mobile radio dealerships in New Zealand. It sells radios, fleet systems and GPS tracking solutions to the Auckland commercial and government markets. It is the largest Tait Authorised Reseller in New Zealand with a team of 14 people, made up of three directors, three salespeople, two in rentals (operating the largest fleet of rental radios in the country) and the balance of the team made up of experienced network engineers, radio repair technicians and mobile installation technicians. This team works closely with Logic Wireless to sell Tait products and engineer solutions for Auckland customers. Logic Wireless is a distributor of Tait products across New Zealand, Australia and the wider Pacific, and is also a Tait Technology Partner, providing innovative applications such as Crosswire GPS and ChatterPTT that complement the Tait portfolio and enable customers to get more value from their communications system.
Many of the small, medium and large businesses Skycom works with have been customers for many years, some dating back to the early 1970s. Skycom has also been a proud supplier of communications for America's Cup events since 1999 and is currently providing a digital radio network to the current Cup operations in Bermuda and around the world with the America's Cup World Series.
Skycom wanted to offer Auckland customers a state of the art, robust, digital radio network with GPS positioning technology and dispatch management software to link vehicle fleets to customer back-office business applications. This required a highly reliable and innovative platform for customers that demand truly open standards technology that is flexible and interoperable with a range of vendor equipment and applications.
After reviewing various other digital radio platforms, Skycom selected the highly resilient Tait DMR Tier 3 system as the most suitable and feature-rich option for its DMR network. The choice of an open standards-based digital trunked radio network offers customers an incredibly user-friendly experience and access to a vast range of business critical applications and radio terminals.
One of the key design features of the Skycom Tait Tier 3 network (named Digifleet) is that the network is managed by a central control component called a Node Controller. This Node Controller automatically assigns available channels and minimises the traffic load between the various network sites. There is no single point of failure in the control of the communication system because if the Node Controller fails, another Node steps in and takes over.
Additional to the highly resilient network design, the Tait DMR Tier 3 solution offers excellent customer enhancements such as various call types and user groups, from one-to-one calling, to group calling, to emergency call types.
Customers can now have access to a radio platform that offers enhanced security at its core, supporting high-level encryption and user authentication, access control for devices and users and full logging of traffic and network access.
As the network is digital, Skycom's Digifleet network can also provide GPS location and tracking services to customers so that they have full visibility of their people and assets out in the field.
Work on building the Skycom network began in December 2014. It now includes both conventional analog and DMR digital repeaters situated on Auckland's Sky Tower and four repeater sites in the Auckland region all linked by a secure IP network.
Skycom Managing Director John Sullivan said: "These sites all link back into a central node with a number of gateways. Already we have a significant number of customers using the network and getting the benefits of the latest digital technology. They have brilliant coverage, from the Brynderwyns in the north to Huntly in the south, including all-of-Auckland coverage." Tait TM9300 mobiles and the famously tough TP9300 portable radios feature prominently in the new system. The TP9300 portables include built-in Bluetooth, GPS and emergency safety features.
"Feedback has been extremely positive. Most of the customers have come off existing wide-area analog systems. They're receiving similar coverage but with additional digital features like GPS tracking of their fleet."
Many astute network operators – including those who do not identify lack of frequency as a challenge – choose trunked technologies because they understand the compelling network and workforce management benefits.