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Where to Begin?: Part 3 of Ricks Guide to LMR for the IT world.

Where to Begin?

 

When I first got into IT support, I worked on a helpdesk.  These were the halcyon days of simple, mostly boiler plate responses and the occasional site visit (If you know the reference, where this phrase came from, I think we will be BFFs). Then I got it in my mind to start learning about server and networks. I read, studied and passed Microsoft & CompTIA exams got my industry certs which is good and all, but I still had NO CLUE about networking and system administration. Yes, I knew concepts but not practical application till the opportunities came my way where I could work hands-on.

Learning about Land Mobile Radio systems (LMR) is no different. It’s just another technical system, then I made the mistake of saying it can’t be that bad *blink* yeah, it is if you do not know where to start. Given that epiphany, I had a base understanding (yes, I read all those articles and watched those videos I recommended in the last article) and I sat down with one of our sales people.  I spent a morning talking to one of our salespeople, yeah, all I can say is my mind is “fried”.  These people really know their stuff.  They explained the systems and how our products fit into the bigger picture of critical infrastructures (which put what I learned already into perspective.  I even started drawing on the white board in my office so I could visualize what they were talking about.

Besides learning about how LMR systems work and the components that make up the systems (which from an outsider it is cool how these devices work), I am also looking at how it impacts us as IT workers (besides the “it’s your problem now” management syndrome).  In summary other than physical access to the system location, there is not much to worry about for a network team (Before you comment, yes there is cyber security concerns for LMR systems but that is for another article), however, if the vendor says you must connect it to the internet for SNMP trapping or monitoring, yeah, all bets are off and you have a lot of work ahead of you.
You must consider the location of the equipment (in a building at the base of a tower, or in closet on campus or in a building) how does the equipment attach to the network? Do you need fiber trunks to sites or in the case of remote locations, satellite or LTE connectivity? There are so many considerations, it can make your head swim. Enter a partner who can help you.

Now I am not trying to shamelessly plug the company I work for (…then again, maybe I am… TX RX Systems Inc.) but I recommend you work with a contractor on an LMR project. Make sure you plan for this in the project budget. If you already have the contractor because your project is a piece of a bigger project (very common in government agencies) then make sure to spend some time with them.   Do your homework on this, I cannot stress that enough. In IT project terms, would you implement a brand-new Cisco infrastructure with wireless, firewalls etc., with one helpdesk person? Or would you contract a certified Cisco partner?  No matter how much you know, using a specialist is the smarter way to go and an LMR is no different. My recommendation is to put the cost of a contractor in your project budget, if there is one in there then great! Believe me, you will thank me later.

 

I will delve more into this topic over the next several blog posts. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to go into more detail on what I have been researching and how we are helping customers around the world, feel free to send me an email at rmoore@txrx.com or on LinkedIn.  Now if you are feeling saucy, I am often roaming around boards on Discord, drop me a DM, rickmoo#6993.

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