Comms Connect 2017 Review

Melbourne is the annual stage for Australasian critical communication vendors and service providers alike to show their wares and flaunt their achievements. This year, in the 36-degree Victorian heat was no different, however, it did have a rather noticeable difference in the look and feel to previous years’ events. A more eclectic bunch, and a larger range of not only vendors, but technologies too. 

Traditionally, Comms Connect events have been heavily focused on two-way radio systems, at least from my experience they have. There have been the one or two radio linking providers and console systems, and some keen, but often orphan IP connectivity providers. Comms Connect in Melbourne this year however, had a wide range of technology providers coming together under one roof, often each being part of a wider, connected solution. 

The traditional radio system stalwarts were there – radio equipment vendors, consoles, and the RF linking grandfathers of the industry. And there was still the keen rivalry between the big vendors that we have all come to know and love. But there were also as many, if not more vendors and service providers of technologies that are still relatively new or unfamiliar to many of us. It was the old dogs performing new tricks and the new kids on the block telling tales of solutions past. 

Spectrum engineers and regulators were present too and we must not forget the importance these organisations play in the future success of our industry. Close consideration and management of spectrum as these new technologies become more prevalent will be increasingly critical to the governance and ongoing sustainability of critical wireless networks. 

I personally enjoyed this balance and enjoyed talking to these exhibitors across the board who are helping shape the future of critical wireless communications solutions and our industry. Our future is secure, if we work together.

Click here to see who exhibited this year at Comms Connect in Melbourne

This year, the presentations were somewhat biased around Public Safety systems, and in particular, the role of private LTE, now and in the future. Lead by TJ Kennedy – President of FirstNet Emergency Services LTE network in the US, it certainly appears that there are a number of opportunities to government and emergency services organisations who are involved with this well architected and deployed broadband critical network.  Better yet, I see opportunity to apply these concepts and learnings to our own drive for an emergency services critical network. Interesting to me too was the commercial model of FirstNet that seems to be working well to deliver this service in its most cost-effective form. At the opposite end of the spectrum (see what I did there!), were the narrow band flag bearers presenting “IOT” solutions and how these can benefit our industry, and our customers. Thin data across long range, reliable networks are certainly a growing area of focus and opportunity to our industry, that we should embrace with open arms. There was of course the case studies of how traditional radio (LMR) solutions are continuing to provide efficiencies to organisations and raise the level of worker safety. This technology still impresses me as to how much value it provides across such a wide and diverse set of industries and customers, at a relatively low cost. Our future is secure, if we work together.

Click here to see who presented this year at Comms Connect in Melbourne

After the long first day, the traditional and much anticipated ARCIA Gala Dinner was held in the conference centre dining hall. People from all over came together in their #1 attire to enjoy a meal, the evenings’ entertainment, and celebrate the achievements of their industry colleagues. This is a superb chance to hear a little bit more about some of the fantastic innovation and achievements our colleagues are making in pursuit of the ongoing betterment of our industry. Cheers to them, and cheers to the people who took the time to put together a nomination page for their nominee. It is imperative that we celebrate these people and their achievements in a social forum such as this gala dinner to continue to promote the value that our industry provides to every facet of daily life. I enjoyed watching the winners come across stage and considering how the traditional achievements are working alongside the new and innovative ones – long may this continue and thrive. 

This year in Melbourne, exhibitors, presenters and award winners were a perfect reflection on the mantra of the ARCIA organisation, “Acknowledging the past – looking to the future” and next years’ event I’m sure will continue to grow against the backdrop of this guiding principal. Our future is secure, if we work together.

Click here to view the ARCIA future of our industry video, Acknowledging the past – looking to the future. 

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