Case study: PCE provides Bricton College with much needed radio communications system

Screen-Shot-2013-10-28-at-13.23.29The client

Bicton College is a leading land-based college set within an area of outstanding natural beauty in the heart of Devon. The grounds comprise 200 hectares of open parkland and rolling countryside. A majestic Georgian manor house overlooks the beautiful lake and sits alongside the latest in modern facilities and equipment. Bicton College is the perfect setting for the range of land-based courses that are available from entry level to higher education, including agriculture, animal care and countryside management & arboriculture.

The challenge

Bicton College had been using radios for many years due to the extensive size of its grounds. The College had decided to upgrade to a more comprehensive and secure system and had decided to explore the use of digital radio.
The solution Premier Communication Electronics (PCE) provided the following:

  • 6 Motorola MOTOTRBO DP3400 radios
  • 15 Motorola MOTOTRBO DP3600 radios
  • 1 Motorola repeater
  • 1 new Ofcom frequency licence
  • 1 altered Ofcom licence for an existing frequency

PCE supplied a mix of digital Motorola DP3400 and DP3600 radios. The DP3400 portable two-way radio combines two-way radio functionality with digital technology. It is available in UHF and VHF versions, with the latter being more suited to open spaces, such as the land surrounding the College.

The DP3600 delivers increased capacity and spectrum efficiency, as well as enhanced voice capability and integrated data communications. The radios were used by a variety of staff including the principal and ground, maintenance and housekeeping staff. One of the five DP3600 radios utilised by the college was used as a base unit in reception. The repeater was used to boost the signal of the radios to ensure their range was efficient in all areas of the College grounds.

The result

Radio communication is crucial to Bicton College due to the huge area the estate covers. The College had decided to upgrade its existing system as it was struggling to achieve complete coverage. Its staff also wanted to enjoy better voice clarity. The switch from analogue to digital radio created immediate benefits for the College. Analogue tends to be cheaper and it is simple and reliable, but digital radios provide extended battery life, clearer voice quality, the ability to utilise data sharing applications and, above all, security and privacy. Analogue radios can be listened to with a simple scanner whereas digital radios are totally private.

The system installed by PCE’s team of highly certified engineers provided the College with an improved communications system that was also integrated with its alarm system; in that every time the alarm was activated, an alarm notification is sent via text to the radios too.

Furthermore, individual calls can be made using the MOTOTRBO range using its extensive contact list capabilities. This allows for private calls between two users rather than having to broadcast potentially sensitive messages across the entire frequency. However, whereas any one conversation would have used the entire frequency on the College’s former analogue system, the MOTOTRBO system makes use to of time division multiple access (TDMA), which enables the College to essentially use two channels on one frequency. This enables the College to break into conversations in the event of an emergency, or in simple terms, gives the College twice as much voice capacity.

PCE processed the paperwork to apply for a new duplex frequency licence for the College and changed its existing licence to a light licence to be used for events purposes.

Following installation, the College’s staff were trained to use the radios and PCE remains in contact with the College to ensure it is making optimum use of its radio system and to assist with any changes or maintenance issues.

Ross Cooper, Campus Manager of Bicton College, said: “Our radios receive a high amount of use for many different reasons and are critical in ensuring student and staff safety, and effective communication throughout the College. We are delighted with the enhanced quality, features and coverage of the new radios and have been really pleased with the service and continued support provided by PCE.”

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