The IT world deals in absolutes, ones and zeros. RF propagation depends on a whole host of variables. Different frequencies have different characteristics. Depending on the height of the ionosphere at any given time and the frequency being used it is possible for a signal to travel all the way around the world and be heard as an echo at the sending site. As we go up in frequency, the amount of propagation bending around obstacles lessens to the point that at UHF the signal doesn’t bend at all and the surrounding buildings, trees, and hills will determine how far the signal will go. Electrical noise affects some frequencies more than others. Precipitation will affect the size of the coverage area as the snow flakes and water droplets absorb RF energy. These are just some of the factors used in designing of a radio system that will meet your needs.
Both the IT and RF technicians must go through years of training and on the job experience to become proficient in their fields, but the training is vastly different and it is rare to find a technician that is proficient in both fields.
It is common practice for IT departments to be given the task of managing and upgrading two way radio systems. This is like asking a psychiatrist to preform brain surgery. Many city’s, county’s and states have built successful radio systems. The key is bringing in qualified radio technicians to supplement the IT staff.
The initial cost “grant funds” needed for the new network based systems tend to be several times higher and yearly maintenance cost “operating funds” are typically three to five times higher than the hard wired systems they replace. Life-cycles of the network vs. hardwired systems is one of those “devils are in the details” issues that need to be explored. Replacement and upgrade funding will probably need to be adjusted to fit the realities of the new disposable system components.
The security aspect of networks are always a gotcha. As with encryption, any network can be hacked. It’s just a matter of how much effort someone is willing to expend to break through or around the firewalls. I recently helped install a system at a University. The IT manager in charge of the campus network told me that even with the latest firewall security available, nothing could keep an IT student with plenty of time on their hands from finding a way around it.
Lets go over the options and see what best fits your situation. If you have sufficient funds and a desire to build a cutting edge radio system, I can help you understand exactly what you are signing up for. If your budget is a little more modest but you still need a reliable radio system, I have a number of solutions available for you to chose from. Just give me a call and lets chat a bit.