General Radio Info

Information on 2way radio technology and answers to general questions about how to use 2way radios.

License-free Radio for Wireless Networks

Icom has announced a new concept in radio communications, a Wi-Fi radio.  The new Icom IP100H radio easily connects to any existing wireless local area network (WLAN). Offering scalable, license-free communication using standard wireless network products. Businesses with wireless networks already in place can quickly establish high-quality mobile communications within their IP network. The IP100H radio can move freely within the IP network, automatically connecting to the closest access point, then moving between access points automatically. You can easily expand coverage of your radio system by simply adding WLAN access points. Communications between different remote locations can be established by connecting their networks via VPNs.

As with other two-way radios, the IP100H allows instant push-to-talk communications between individuals or groups (unlike cell phones). Since communication is over a digital network, sound quality is superior to traditional analog radio communications, comparable to cellular phones. But there are no monthly cell phone charges!  And no FCC radio licenses are necessary either, because the IP100H uses standard Wi-Fi networking products as it's infrastructure.

The IP100H radio is a compact, yet powerful device. Measuring only 3.7 inches high, and weighing 7.2 ounces. Making the IP100H one of the smallest professional radios on the market.

IP100H Radio Highlights
  •  License-free radio using standard wireless network
  •  Compact and lightweight
  •  Up to 27 hours of operation
  •  Telephone-like full duplex communication with headset
  •  Superior reliable sound quality
  •  Built-in encryption uses high security wireless protocols WPA-PSK and WPA-PSK2
  •  Vibration function for incoming calls
  •  Waterproof in accordance with IPX7

To Support the IP framework Icom has announced 3 other products.

IP100C Controller

The Icom IP100C Controller connects to a wireless network, and manages the radio devices. It allows groups of users to communicate within other groups. Individual calls are also possible.  It communicates with third-party manufacturers' Wi-Fi access points, so it easily installs with your existing wireless network.

Users can talk concurrently in full duplex – much like talking on a regular telephone, by enabling this feature within the IP1000C controller and using a headset with the IP100H radio.

  • Each IP100C controller can manage up to 100 devices
  • Up to 11 IP1000C controllers can be interconnected
  • Can be used in all standard wireless networks
  • Easy to install
  • Manages individual, group, or "all-area" calls


IP100FS PC-Based Dispatcher

Icom's new IP100FS is an optional PC-dispatcher software package, and serves as an additional radio in your IP network. Installable on your Windows PC, this software creates a dispatch radio. It handles all types of calls: individual, group calls, or text messages. Text messages can be either free text or predefined messages.

The IP100FS has a map feature allowing you to see where in the network your radios are connected.  Most programming updates can be done remotely over the network using this software, eliminating the need to bring radios in each time a change is made.

  • Runs on your Windows PC
  • Functions like a traditional radio base station system
  • Uses the computer's built-in sound system
  • Map function to locate radios in the network
  • Remotely update radios in the field


AP-90M WLAN Access Point

The AP-90M is Icom's compact Wi-Fi access point. Although any third-party access point can be used, the AP-90M handles both 5 and 2.4 GHz spectrum bands with a built-in high safety standard for encryption. The access point is equipped with various features such as load balancing, packet filters, and support for the PoE function.

  • IEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatibility
  • Handles 5 and 2.4 GHz bands simultaneously
  • IEEE802.11af PoE compatible
  • External antenna

Ideal For Many Settings:

  • Warehouses
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels/Resorts
  • Museums/Conventions
  • Shopping Malls/Retail Stores
  • Schools/Universities/Campus Environments
  • Hospitals/Care Facilities
  • In fact, anywhere with Wi-Fi access!

Posted by in General Radio Info, Communication Technology on October 22, 2013 .
How Does Radio Encryption Work?

Encryption is the process of encoding information (in this case audio signals) in such a way that eavesdroppers or hackers cannot understand it, but authorized parties can access it. In two-way radios encryption modifies a voice signal using a coding algorithm. This algorithm is controlled by an encryption key. The encryption key is used by the transmit and receive radios to enable the voice signal to be coded and decoded for both radios. Therefore, all radios communicating must have matching encryption keys to receive transmissions.

Fig. 1 - Simple Voice Inversion Encryption     Fig. 2 - Frequency Hopping Encryption     Fig. 3 - Rolling Code Encryption  

There are several different methods for encrypting voice signals.

Simple Inversion Encryption

Inversion scrambling inverts the frequencies and volume of the voice signal. In figure 1 on the left, all the voice signal frequencies at 300Hz are inverted to 3kHz. The volume level is also inverted. Most two-way radios with simple voice inversion have 32 different encryption keys to choose from. The keys are set in the radio through radio programming software. Only radios using the same frequency, with the same privacy code, the same encryption key, and within range of your signal, will be able to hear your transmissions. This type of encryption provides enough protection for most two-way radio users. Many enrty-level and mid-tier radios have this type of encryption built-in.


Hopping Inversion Encryption

Frequency hopping encryption adds a greater degree of security than simple inversion. Using this method the frequencies and frequency rates change irregularly as seen in figure 2. This cause the voice signal to "hop" over a number of different frequencies and frequency rates. Some radios in the commercial market have used this technology in the 900MHz range, although most do not.


  Rolling Code Inversion Encryption

Rolling code inversion uses a method where the voice signal is inverted at a constantly changing rate. As shown in figure 3 on the left, the signal starts at an upward inversion frequency direction and climbs to the upper limit. Then, it reverses direction and inverts at lower frequencies until it reaches the lower limit. It is a more robust form of encryption than simple voice inversion. Most radios with rolling code encryption have 1020 encryption keys to choose from. The keys are set in the radio by programming software. As with simple inversion, only radios using the same frequency, with the same privacy code, the same encryption key, and within range of your signal, will be able to hear your transmissions. The difference with rolling code vs simple inversion is the number of codes (1020 for rolling) and the "rolling" inversion of the signal that make it more difficult to break. Rolling code is used for more sensitive applications. Some mid-tier radios, and most advanced radios have rolling code encryption as an optional feature.

  DES and AES Encryption

The most sensitive applications (such as FBI, military, some financial applications, etc.) use either AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), or it's former cousin DES (Data Encryption Standard). DES was developed in the 1970's but has been replaced by it's newer cousin AES in many applications. These encryption algorithms are quite advanced and take some understanding of encryption methods and mathematics to fully explain. They are the "gold standard" when it comes to encryption. However just like real gold, there is a higher cost and complexity associated with implementing them.

How Encryption Keys Are Set in AES and DES Encryption

Since AES and DES are used for highly sensitive applications setting their encryption keys is also highly sensitive. Setting the codes requires a special device known as a "Keyloader", also called a KVL (Key Variable Loader). This device (looks similar to a radio) allows the operator to insert the keys into the encryption boards within the individual radios. The KVL attaches to the radio with a special cable and attaches to the interface port of the radio. The operator enters individual numbers and letters (depending on the protocol) into the KVL to produce a unique code to your radio traffic. The KVL transcribes your code of approximately 20 characters into the final key that is then loaded into each radio. Since access to the KVL constitutes access to the entire system, these devices are not available to the general public, and are closely guarded at radio shops, or government agencies, where they reside.

Managing Encryption Keys in a Complex Environment

So how do you manage changing encryption keys when you have large operations? OTAR (Over-The-Air-Rekeying) is the answer. In OTAR you have a dedicated...

Engineers at University of Washington have created a new wireless communication technology where devices communicate without relying on any form of power.  This new technology, researchers call "ambient back-scatter", uses existing TV and cellular signals already in the space around us.  These new devices communicate by reflecting existing signals to exchange information with each other. The researchers built small, battery-free devices with antennas that detect, harness, and reflect a TV's signal. These reflected signals are then picked up by other similar devices.  The technology could enable a network of devices to communicate with no power source or human attention needed.

What Researchers Are Saying
"We can re-purpose wireless signals that are already around us into both a source of power and a communication medium," said lead researcher Shyam Gollakota, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. "It's hopefully going to have applications in a number of areas including wearable computing, smart homes and self-sustaining sensor networks."

"Our devices form a network out of thin air," said co-author Joshua Smith, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering and of electrical engineering. "You can reflect these signals slightly to create a Morse code of communication between battery-free devices."


Uses For The New Technology
The technology could be used for communication of text messages and emails without requiring battery consumption. It's also feasible to build this technology into devices that do rely on batteries, such as smartphones, and then when the battery dies the phone could still send text messages. The applications are endless researchers say. Researches plan to continue advancing the technology's capacity and range of the communication network.

The researchers published their results at the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Data Communication 2013 conference in Hong Kong, which begins Aug. 13. They have received the conference's best-paper award for their research.

Read more at:


engineers have created a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on batteries or wires for power.

Read more at:
engineers have created a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on batteries or wires for power.

Read more at:

What applications for this technology do you see?  Let us know your opinion.

by Quality Two-Way Radios
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Posted by in General Radio Info on August 12, 2013 .
Today's Success is All About Speed

There are literally hundreds of studies showing the same thing: how an organization handles communication is at the root of a company's success or failure. Today's business environment is all about speed. How quickly can you get information, respond to customer requests, make decisions based on up-to-the-minute facts? Does your business have a communication system that gives you a competitive edge, provides cost reductions, or enhances safety?  It all starts with how your organization deals with internal communications. After all, you can't respond quickly to customers if your employees are waiting on each other to respond.

Now you might think internal employee communication issues are a thing of the past since the wide adaption of cell phones. Think again!  Although cell phones were a big improvement over land lines, cell phones often can't facilitate the type of communication businesses need when managing a mobile workforce (and by "mobile" we mean anyone not sitting at a desk full time). 

Certain industries have known for years the advantages of low-cost instant communication. Industries such as taxis, construction, delivery services, warehouses, factories, and many others have used 2way radios throughout their operations for years. But other business operations never consider that they too can take advantage of the same technology to reduce costs and gain a competitive advantage. "Oh, 2-way radios are so old-school" you say. Not so! Just like cell phones, today's two-way radios are smaller, lightweight (many are smaller than a cell phone), less expensive, and offer many features cell phones can't.  Time and money are the 2 basic advantages of 2way radios.


Are you suffering from slow, inefficient communications?

Faster Communications - Faster Response

Let me say it again, today's business environment is all about speed. 2-way radios improve your speed to respond to situations. When you need to talk with team members no number needs to be dialed. You won't wait for the phone to ring and be answered either. And did I mention all the times you get voice mail instead of the person you called? With 2way radios your team members will receive your message immediately and can respond back to you instantly. That means better response and reaction time throughout your daily business operations. On average an employee can save between 7-10 minutes per hour with 2way radios. Think, almost an hour each day for every employee!

There are no telemarketers or unauthorized calls. Company cell phones are often used for personal calls and become a source of distraction. With two-way radios you control who is in your communication network, and access to it.

During natural disasters or in emergency situations cell phone networks and land lines can become congested, or stop working altogether. Two-way radio frequencies will remain available in emergencies.  That why police and firemen use them!  Don't loose your ability to respond to situations in an emergency.


Efficient Communications - Efficient Operations

Group-calling capabilities inherent in 2-way radio communications are another big advantage 2way radios offer. Think about the time-saving aspect of being able to share information with your entire team instantly. No need for a meeting, scheduling a conference call, or dialing every person individually. Press a button and relay the information real-time to everyone. It's that easy!  Trouble shoot issues as they arise and get immediate input from your entire team.  Everyone can work on the problem at once, or if you need to communicate with a subset of your team have them change to another channel so they don't disturb other team members. And two way radios equipped with selective calling will also let you make calls to individuals.

Two way radios are more efficient for coordinating activities of several people at once. Resources can be located and managed more quickly, idle time can be minimized. "Does Jack have the part the customer needs?" "No, but Eddy does." "Eddy, can you bring it to our downtown location?" "Yes, I'll be there in 30 minutes."  "Sara, can you call the customer and let them know we'll be at their location in an hour." In just a minute you've resolved the issue and made that customer happy. You can have minute-by-minute control of events to improve both quality of service, and employee productivity.

I once new an engineering department that worked on a large business campus. Team members often were not at their desks, but on the factory line, or other areas of the campus. After getting the team a set of small two-way radios, the manager told me he felt like he had gained an extra employee. He no longer had to run around looking for team members when urgent situations arose. Short conversations were dealt with immediately. Bigger issues were handled with a short message to "come to my office as soon as your free". Dental...

Posted by in General Radio Info on January 14, 2013 .

Choosing the right two way radio for your particular needs is an important decision. Today's 2 way radios offer many features. Understanding those features and how they apply to your needs will help you choose a radio that can significantly improve your use. Should you choose UHF or VHF? How many channels should you have? How far do you need to communicate, and what does that mean for the type of radio you need? Do you need certain security features, waterproof radios, or radios for use around hazardous materials? This short set of questions can help you understand when these features, when they are needed, and assist you in making the right choice.

Take this short quiz to help you choose 


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© Quality Two-Way Radios 2013

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