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MariTEL

Jason Smith October 22, 2013 Announcements

What? New RoIP dispatch solution that is tightly integrated with the VHF radio and allows a dispatcher to directly control the radio via Windows PC or iOS and Android devices as though they were sitting directly in front of the radio.  There are three types of clients: Dispatch (Windows based, multiple radios, cost per "seat"), Solo (Windows based, one radio at a time, free), and Pocket App (iOS & Android, one radio at a time, free).

Demo.  The best way to understand the capabilities is to download the free software and give it a try.  To download the app for your SmartPhone, search for "turbovui".  To install on a Windows PC, click here to download and install the program.  Once installed, contact us to obtain the server address, username and password and you'll be controlling a Motorola XPR4550 VHF radio in our lab within 5 minutes.  Note: feel free to use our demo from multiple devices so you can see the interaction between multiple "dispatchers".

Unique capabilities are consistent across all platforms: Windows, iOS, Android.

  • Direct channel control
  • Toggle High or Low transmit power
  • Toggle Tight or Normal squelch
  • Toggle Monitor button that disables squelch, to temporarily hear "everything"
  • Scan off/on - add/delete channels "on the fly"
  • Quick access to any of four programmable function keys
  • Intercom for private, internal communications -- planned release June 2014 on the Pocket app

Pricing.  Cost for a brand new (1) radio site, (1) dispatcher system is about $2,000.  The same is true to add it to an existing Telex RoIP system although customers can also receive a credit for swapping out an existing Tait, Motorola or Kenwood VHF radio.  No monthly recurring fees.  

"Pocket App" vs Zello.  Turbo VUi's Pocket app for iOS (Apple) and Android devices provides a more elegant solution with direct radio channel control and several useful features.  There are no monthly recurring fees and the payback just to avoid the Zello expense is about 30 months, not to mention improved reliability and performance.  Pocket App does not have any call history capability like Zello.  Pocket App also only allows connecting to one radio at a time.  While you can easily connect to various radios, there is no ability to concurrently monitor multiple radios from a single device.  Preliminary testing has found the Pocket app to have a much faster response time than Zello.  Zello uses a server infrastructure to "stream" multiple channels whereas the Turbo VUi Pocket app connects directly to the radio site.

vs Telex / Bosch.  Bosch has no plans to provide an "App" for portable dispatch.  The simplicity of the Turbo VUi platform eliminates VPN and license key costs (both fixed & recurring) and is a good fit as  single site solution or as a compliment to existing C-Soft/IP223 installations as a replacement of Zello, Sprint, etc..  However, the Turbo VUi Dispatch Console software, used to control more than 1 radio on a screen, falls considerably short when compared to Bosch's C-Soft software.  Perhaps the most notable missing feature is the Voice Annunciation capability to play pre-recorded messages.  Both require a USB license dongle (which can be made portable with USB over IP solutions) but the Turbo VUi exceeds in simplicity with no VPN requirements. 

Internet Requirements.  For the Internet connection at the radio site you need either a static IP address or a router that supports DynDNS to create a "pseudo" static IP address.  Once you have this "static" IP address, a "port forwarding" rule is set in the router so that Turbo VUi clients located elsewhere can remotely find the radio gateway through the Internet.  This static IP address and port forwarding work is a "one time" effort.  You can do this yourself, with remote support from MariTEL, or with local support from an IT professional.  As for bandwidth, the Turbo VUi platform has two options that can be easily changed at any time.  The highest setting uses quite a lot at 176 kbps per audio channel whereas the compressed audio (our recommendation) is extremely efficient at 17.6 kbps which works well on 3G cellular, DSL and public WiFi Internet connections.

FAQs

  1. Should I replace my new Zello set-up with TurboVUi's Pocket App?  We recommend replacing the Zello service with a Turbo VUi system.  The Zello service was a "stop gap" solution in response to Sprint's poor transition to a new network that remains less than ideal for connecting to unattended radio systems.  The Zello service relies upon a Windows PC as the "gateway" to the VHF dispatch radio.  The Turbo VUi gateway replaces this Windows PC, is optimized for this function and is far more reliable.  The Turbo VUi solution requires no monthly service fees so the payback period is about 30 months.  If switching over entirely from Telex to Turbo VUi, the payback calculation should also consider monthly VPN & key hosting support fees.
  2. I'm looking for a new dispatch radio solution, should I buy the Telex system from Bosch or the Turbo VUi system?  It depends on a few factors:  number of radios you plan to operate, importance of a portable dispatch application, importance of Telex's Voice Annunciation feature that allows playback of pre-recorded messages with the press of a button, and others.  Give us a call and we can help you make the right decision.
  3. If I switch to the Turbo VUi platform, what can I get for my Telex system?  We're not sure.  There is a limited market for these solutions and government / public safety users typically avoid buying after-market hardware and software.  However, even with a 25% salvage value, a typical Telex RoIP system with VPN hardware would yield $1,000.
  4. Can I use this if we currently monitor multiple radios?  Absolutely.  Using the free Solo app for Windows, you can open up one or more "instances" and concurrently control multiple radios.  A Dispatch Console version is also available for an extra fee.  You may also continue using the Telex C-Soft & IP223 system and selectively add Turbo VUi to radio sites that you want to enable for mobile dispatch.  
  5. Does the Demo connect to the radio in my area?  No.  The Demo system controls a VHF radio in our lab.  Another radio in our lab, on channel 24, is connected to an Automated Radio Check controller so you can test while we are away from the office. 
  6. How many phones/users can this be on the system? You can have up to (41) remote clients concurrently connected to each gateway, obviously more than most would need! One "connection" is included in the price of the gateway. Each additional concurrent connection costs $350 (one-time, no recurring expense). You can provision many different user profiles to use either the Solo (Windows PC) or Pocket (iOS, Android) software. For example, you could have (5) profiles set-up to use a fewer number of concurrent connections. If (2) concurrent connections were in use, the 3rd client that tried to connect would receive a message indicating that no available "seats" are available. I believe it would work for about five minutes before advising you to purchase more "seats".

  7. Do incoming phone calls impact the radio operation on the iPhone? Yes, temporarily, as long as it takes you to either complete or decline the call.  The Pocket app has a pretty good alert/timeout feature in case you've switched to other apps for more than a few minutes.

  8. Can you step on another conversation? Yes, you can transmit or change channels while the radio is actively receiving traffic.  The Pocket App gives you a "go ahead" beep when ready for you to transmit. 

 

Jason Smith June 30, 2013 Announcements

Quick Summary

If a) on WiFi, and b) not being charged, then Apple devices will turn off the WiFi radio pretty quickly (couple of minutes) after the device goes into "screen lock" mode.  So, if you want to operate an Apple device on WiFi for an extended period of time, either a) turn off auto-lock, or b) connect to a charger (PC, wall, external battery pack).

 

WiFi Goes to Sleep

Unlike Android devices, Apple's iOS will disconnect devices relying solely upon a WiFi Internet connection when the "Auto-Lock" timer has expired and disconnected from a charger.  If the device has integral Cellular Data and the service is in range, network dependent background applications (e.g. Zello, Skype, TurboVUi) will continue to work even when the screen is locked.  However, if out of cell range and relying upon a WiFi connection, the device will disable the WiFi connection once locked, either manually or once the Auto-Lock time has expired.  

Solutions

One band-aid approach to keep the WiFi connection active is to configure the Auto-Lock setting to "Never".  This will drain more battery but will keep the WiFi connection active.  Note:  if you manually "lock" the screen, the WiFi adapter will turn off just as though the Auto-Lock timer were enabled.

Another approach is to use an external battery pack from Jackery or Mophie who makes a combined case with battery pack.  When using one of these power sources, the Apple device will operate as though it is being charged and will keep the WiFi connection active even if the screen is locked.

What about my cell coverage?

So now you're probably thinking that I'm usually in cell range so does this really apply?  Many times, your device may be in cell range, and it is for phone calls, but data/Internet coverage may be diminished much greater than expected.  The problem is not in the device but in the cell provider's network.  4G and LTE coverage expands based upon network traffic.  So, if you're at the edge of coverage, your data connection can rapidly deteriorate in an area where it was previously working just fine but your signal indicator may not change at all.  For the most part, this is a problem that will get better in time as providers continue to build out / expand their next generation wireless data networks.  For now, just be aware that 2 or 3 signal bars doesn't always mean a good data connection.  We recommend an app like "speedtest.net" to instantly check availability of your Internet connection and the speeds you can expect.