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A how-to checklist for selecting a push-to-talk over cellular partner

How-to checklist

The growth in mobile coverage is accelerating the transition from legacy radios to push-to-talk over cellular (PTToC). To help organisations select a trustworthy PTToC (also known as PTT and PoC) partner to support their customers’ critical communications, we have produced a guide of credentials to look for.

The guide is based on our expertise and the 20 years of experience we have in researching, developing and improving PTToC technology:

 

✓   Meets real needs
Any new technology must meet real needs and provide solutions to existing problems. From multimedia messaging, live video communication and location tracking to lone worker, recording and workforce management, identify what you want your PTToC solution to do – and check it can do it.

 

✓   Speed and reliability
Critical communications rely on fast, reliable and resilient software. When you’re choosing a PTToC partner, it is essential that you consider:

  • if they offer a carrier-grade system availability of 99.999%.
  • how smooth the switching is between cellular 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks and broadband – it should be seamless.
  • latency – ideally, there should be no difference between a private PTT call or a radio group of 1000.
  • speed of voice transmission – aim for less than 0.5 seconds.

 

✓   Productivity
PTT technology should increase productivity and efficiencies by enhancing and improving communication.

  • Check how many groups and individuals the PTToC platform can communicate with.
  • Consider data usage – aim for around 300MB per month.

 

✓   Device agnostic
It should be possible to integrate your chosen PTToC application to almost any device – including iOS and Android devices, and specialist devices, such as rugged, vehicle, screenless, bodycams and tablets.

 

✓   Value for money
Make sure that you only pay for the features that you need. PTToC providers should offer a menu of pricing where you can add on and pay for extra features, such as workforce management or lone worker, if you want them. Check the PTToC provider does not require a minimum number of sales in the first year.

 

  Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is an ongoing challenge for any connected solution. Threats to PTToC solutions include service disruption, private information theft, eavesdropping in real-time and listening to voice recordings kept offline.

Therefore it is important to consider:

  • are best practice methodologies and security guidelines followed to ensure a safe code, platform and network? Ensure that PTToC applications support full end-to-end encryption based on AES256 standard.
  • are robust technical and procedural safeguards in place to protect data and ensure it remains accurate?
  • GDPR requirements are complied with.
  • data backups are made, including cloud-to-cloud backups. Even a short data loss can result in detrimental consequences.
  • device functionality and user permissions can be controlled to ensure absolute security and to prevent endusers from modifying the configuration of the device or changing the settings.

 

  Autonomy
Decide if you want to be able to manage your PTToC application and customers autonomously, without involvement from your PTT provider. If you do, then your PTToC provider will need to provide a central provisioning portal. This will give you full control and enable you to make changes quickly and efficiently.

 

✓   Interoperability
Any PTToC system you consider should be able to integrate with LMR and DMR systems. This will enable your legacy radio customers to test the PTT solution without having to invest in additional expensive radio infrastructure.

Check available integration solutions  – from software-based solutions to standalone gateway solutions.

 

  Data insight
Consider what management information you require and check that your PTT solution can provide it. For example, subscriber status, call logs, last login time, activity time, last activity time, recording reviewer activity reports and so on.

It should be possible to generate reports and view push-to-talk data to enable you to analyse system usage.

 

✓   Support and maintenance
Be sure to check what after-sales support you will receive from your PTToC provider. How much time will they invest in on-boarding and training your sales team? Do they provide sales support material? Will they provide technical support for software configuration?

Ensure that a 24/7 support service is provided and an incident management escalation process is in place.

 

And finally, remember to check that the technology is tried, tested and proven, and that it’s user-friendly, intuitive and easy to use – if it isn’t, people simply will not want to use it.