Motorola Solutions unveils DMR Mototrbo Tier 3 trunking system

Motorola Solutions introduced its first Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Tier 3 trunked radio system today (16 November 2015) with the launch of its Mototrbo Capacity Max system. The Capacity Max next generation trunking solution will ship in Q1 2016. The company has already informed its sales channel and will unveil it to the rest of the world at PMR Expo in Cologne, Germany next week (24-26 November).

To date, the company has been one of the few major DMR manufacturers not to offer a DMR Tier 3 system, unlike Tait, Hytera, Simoco and Sepura. Up until now it has offered solutions that expand conventional DMR Tier 2 systems to incorporate additional sites and support more radio channels in the shape of its Mototrbo Capacity Plus single-site trunking solution and Mototrbo Linked Capacity Plus multi-site trunking solution.

Mototrbo Capacity Max is a full trunking system, which also supports the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) standard for multi-vendor interoperability, including the Tier III mode of operation.

Trunking is a method used to increase radio system efficiency. Instead of permanently allocating radio channels to a specific purpose, a trunked system temporarily allocates a channel from a pool of available channels, and only when it is needed. After use, the channel is returned to the pool. Using this method, it is possible to operate a large system with a small number of channels, saving cost and resources.

The company has always said it would provide a DMR Tier 3 trunking solution if it felt its customers required one. It also faced the dilemma of being the dominant manufacturer in the high tier TETRA and P25 two-way radio trunking standards – DMR is a much cheaper digital radio solution and there was a perception in the market that Motorola was concerned a DMR Tier 3 solution might cannibalise some of its TETRA and P25 sales.

However, Motorola now clearly believes its customers do want a Mototrbo trunked solution. ‘Capacity Max builds upon our innovative MOTOTRBO digital two-way radio solutions to deliver enhanced capability and expanded capacity,’ said Tim Clark, director, Sales Channel Products and Programmes, Europe and Africa. ‘The rich feature set and increased resilience equips our customers with dependable, mission-critical mobile communications.’

The new Capacity Max solution is scalable from small, single-site systems to large, complex projects that demand greater capacity (up to 3,000 users per site) and higher levels of performance from voice and data-intensive communications deployments.

Customers also gain greater control through sophisticated management and monitoring tools that optimise the performance of the Mototrbo radio communications system. Larger radio systems are particularly used by public services, utilities (pictured), energy, manufacturing and transportation industries.

The system architecture utilises a standard Internet protocol (IP) network with a centralised server, which the company points out helps to reduce the cost of ownership further. Multiple levels of fault tolerance are designed to ensure that there is no single point of failure and the system is extremely secure, with optional Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption.

To minimise cost and operational impact for existing customers, Motorola Solutions has enabled a smooth migration path from legacy analogue and Mototrbo solutions to Capacity Max.

Capacity Max can also take advantage of the company’s Mototrbo Application Developer Programme where Motorola Solutions has created a large ecosystem of in-house and third-party applications.

The application portfolio offers customers value-add solutions that have expanded the capabilities of two-way radio far beyond traditional voice communications. Examples include control room solutions that enable efficient management of mobile workforces and automated alarm management that enhances safety and improved response times.

Why the move?

Explaining the move to DMR Tier 3, Clark told Wireless: ‘Mototrbo is our DMR Tier 2 portfolio based on the ETSI standard, which we were actively involved in developing. We have a long-term participation in the ETSI Standard Group.’

DMR Tier 1 is Licensed Exempt 446, but Motorola has no products in this tier and has no plans to do so either, according to Clark. ‘DMR Tier 2 peer-to-peer or conventional radio systems have been our main focus up to now, as it covers the bulk of our customers’ needs,’ said Clark. ‘We also have Mototrbo Link Capacity Plus and Connect Plus, which are trunking, but an expansion of Tier 2 systems.

‘We’ve not produced a DMR Tier 3 ETSI Standard up until now, but we are an active member of the DMR Association and we have made a large contribution to the definition of the Tier 3 standard and have IP in it,’ said Clark.

He pointed out that Motorola has sold some 3,000 trunking solutions worldwide with a good installed base of Linked Capacity Plus systems. ‘Capacity Max is something complementary to those products,’ he explains.

‘If customers need to expand their radio system further they can now do so. Capacity Max offers a very smooth migration path from Linked Capacity Plus via software upgrades to repeaters and radios, although you do need to buy a new system server.

‘It also offers a good migration path for customers with existing MPT1327 analogue trunked systems. We have plug-in option boards available that slot into the radio subscriber unit. Our new SLR 5000 repeaters are also compatible with MPT1327, so they can migrate to Capacity Max from that,’ said Clark.

He added that the system provides a very broad applications capability including GPS, alarm management, control room solutions via its programme of 300 application partners worldwide. ‘They are developing apps based on the Mototrbo platform, which are providing rich benefits for customers.

‘Capacity Max provides a simple, efficient, standard IP network with a centralised control and management server. On first release, one server per system supports up to 15 sites – although this will be expanded later - and each site can support up to 15 repeaters with up to 3,000 users per site depending on the core profile and core site. But it is quite a high density deployment,’ said Clark.

Capacity Max also supports data revert repeaters – up to 6 per site and 12 time channels per site, which can support data only traffic. ‘Those data channels come into their own where the customer is using applications like GPS, SCADA control, text messaging and so on. The data can be offloaded to these dedicated data channels, so the voice channels are not impacted by heavy data overload,’ explained Clark.

The system also supports a high level of reliability and resilience. A second server can be added geographically separated from main server. Should both servers go down, then each site falls back into single site trunking mode to keep communications going.

If a repeater fails, the next repeater takes over until there is just one repeater left.

‘So, it is a highly resilient no single point of failure system for our larger customers,’ said Clark. ‘Only known and authorised radios are allowed to make calls. Each radio has a unique serial number, so the system operator is about to check whether each radio is allowed on the systems. Applications like stop and stun are available and AES 256 encryption is supported for our highest security conscious customers.’

Clark added that Motorola has also invested heavily in system management via its Advisor and Total Network Care management products. These offers fault management and remote fault repair where possible and indicates where bottlenecks might occur thanks to real time monitoring and control of the network.

‘We also launched a new version of our radio management package, which enables the manager to reconfigure the radios. This is fairly automated to match radio network configuration, so there is no need to bring the devices into the workshop, as they can be reprogrammed over the air – and that saves time and money,’ pointed out Clark.

Clark said that Motorola will be offering a fully compliant ETSI version of Capacity Max, but added: ‘DMR will never be as rich as TETRA as it has much broader spectrum of users and needs, so it is impossible to cover everything in a standard. So with Mototrbo we offer much more beyond the standard.

‘That gives us the flexibility to address different customer needs, so we can offer different features and modes of operation on top of the seven interoperability standards defined by ETSI. We will therefore offer different features for individual clients that are proprietary, so there are unique Mototrbo features beyond the standard.’

The company is currently drawing up a full suite of training course with pilots going ahead. ‘We are training and certifying partners,’ said Clark, ‘and we also offer services to support partners in the field such as factory acceptance testing and training for our own products and applications.’

Motorola’s customer solutions centres in Basingstoke and Berlin will be available for people to come in and test things, as well as showcase the product to customers.

In terms of terminals, Clark said the Mototrbo higher tier DP4000, DM 4000 + ATEX radios will support Capacity Max, but not the low tier radios.

Image Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.