In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s most manufactures were making equipment that required frequent alignments and repairs to keep radio systems working properly. The technical manuals were complete with circuit diagrams and part numbers so that most any electronic technician could repair their equipment. Competing service shops were encouraged to support the manufactures sales. By the mid 90’s the manufactures were able to produce some very reliable equipment reducing the need for many local service shops. Motorola closed all of their company owned service centers and set up partnerships with independently owned shops.
By the turn of the century a new realization set in. The equipment was too good. The Quantar series for example, was advertised to average ten years “mean time between failures” or six sigma as they called it. Many of these radios have been in service for over 15 years now and will likely last another 15 years. Reoccurring sales were dropping and service contract revenue was dropping at the repair centers.
The solution for Motorola and a growing number of manufactures was to move to systems that would require replacements within just a few years and eliminate competition from independent service shops by removing all circuit diagrams and parts list from their service manuals. The manufactures could now control prices by controlling which shops were allowed to sell and service the equipment. To further control the competition, Motorola began selling proprietary systems that would not directly interface with any other manufactures equipment. Once you purchased a core piece of their equipment, you were locked into a Sole Source procurement process. The factory repair depot’s profit margins ballooned as well as their protected service shop partners. When the sales numbers get low, the depot can simply stop repairing your model of radio requiring you to buy a new replacement.
Many agencies are comfortable dealing with a well known company that has a reputation for providing reliable equipment as long as the grant money covers the higher prices. They are less comfortable when the reality sets in that they are locked into maintenance contracts that are controlled by the manufactures and are typically three to five times higher than the open source systems they replaced. The manufacture determines which partner shops are allowed to submit a quote for sales and service in a designated service area. No competition is allowed.
Many of the larger State and County self maintained shops prefer to build open source communication systems that allow the flexibility to use competing manufactures equipment as new and more innovative equipment becomes available. Motorola has the LEX 700 out now and a new model the LEX L10 coming out soon. Harris has their RPC-200 as well as the RF-3590 LTE Ruggedized Android tablet. These use Band 14 First Net capabilities as well as existing cellular carriers. This is the future of Public Safety communications. By keeping a back up “KISS” system for those rare times that cellular goes down, you can have the best of both worlds.
The different military services have purchased equipment from many different manufactures and are able to operate across all of the systems by utilizing open source wire line and IP connectivity.
We here at Enterprise Communications work with our customers, helping them find the most appropriate equipment for their needs, and then select a service plan that will fit their budget. As an independent service provider, we are able to give unbiased recommendations for your consideration. Give us a call and we will be happy to help.