The Business Radio industry provides high-quality operational radiocommunications solutions to a very wide variety of UK business activity. The radiocommunications solutions provided, enable operations that are (at the very least) “Business-Critical” or, more usually, Mission-Critical and very often even Safety-Related. Without these operations, the whole UK would be in the most serious difficulty. The general public is usually unaware that these operations even exist until something goes wrong. But, if that happens, the most serious repercussions can be expected.
Key Strategic Points for the UK:
Radio Spectrum for the High Quality Radiocommunications: The voice component (with some data) of the communications is carried over the UK’s dedicated radio spectrum. This spectrum allocation makes possible the achievement of very high resilience. The FCS is keen that the solutions that are provided remain high resilience and so strongly supports the maintenance of the existing radio spectrum allocations for Business Radio.
Wideband/Broadband Mission-Critical Data: Watch this space!
Enforcement of the Rules: The UK already has a body of regulation that is sufficient to ensure that the operational communications are effective and do not get interrupted by “Harmful Interference” or other problems. The position of the FCS is therefore that sufficient resource should be made available to the Ofcom Enforcement authorities to make sure this is the case.
Competition: Unlike other radiocommunications industries, the Business Radio industry is fragmented into hundreds of providers. Competition is therefore virtually assured in this market.
However, there is a serious down-side to relying solely on competition regulation in an environment where operational effectiveness is paramount. That is that since there are virtually no barriers to entry into the market, less technically competent entities may seek to supply systems that don’t work properly, can cause “harmful interference” to other users and which may even be unsafe. The consequences are always serious, sooner or later. These systems are often purchased by customers who were mis-lead by the claims made about these poor systems and were attracted by their lower initial cost without regard to their much higher overall cost and their under-performance.
The FCS takes the view that in the current regulatory environment, market entry by such entities is unstoppable. However, making available a range of resources and advice to the customers may alleviate this to some extent. The FCS has therefore produced Guidance on Site Engineering and Resilience. These can support a constructive discussion with the potential customer in advance of the sale.
Site Engineering: If a radiocommunication system is not installed and configured properly, it won’t work properly and so the efficiency of vital operations will suffer. However, Site Engineering is not a simple subject. For some years, the FCS has been responsible for the UK Site Engineering Code of Practice, FCS1331. This provides a benchmark to address quality of on-site engineering practice and accompanying issues of interference and poor customer experience.
The FCS is currently in the process of up-issuing this Code of Practice and enhancing it with the addition of a section on Communal Sites.
The FCS 5-Level Scheme to Assess Resilience: The FCS is convinced that the Business Radio approach to operational radiocommunications remains the only credible way to meet most professional operational needs for communications in Business-Critical, Mission-Critical and Safety-Related applications.
However, there are frequent cases where claims of such compliance from proponents of other approaches are made. These sometimes are successful in misleading users into thinking they have bought a Resilient Solution. However, they later find they have not.
The FCS has therefore created a 5-Level Scheme whereby Resilience may be assessed. With this scheme, even completely non-technical users may specify the level of resilience that they need in each of the categories that affect resilience.
This Scheme is contained in the FCS Code of Practice, FCS 2020. The code of Practice and the Associated Matrix can be downloaded at the link below:
Become an FCS Member
FCS equips radio professionals to deal with changing markets — including the impending digital switch-over of broadcast radio