Frank Anderson, founder and managing partner of A Beep LLC offers details on the company’s recently announced SMR and push-to-talk (PTT) services and agreements.
Tell us more about A Beep. The company headquarters are in Joliet, Illinois, and we are a mobile communications dealer that offers JVCKENWOOD, Harris, Tait Communications and Icom America products, among others. A Beep started as an FCC-licensed private paging carrier and later built one of the first logic trunked radio (LTR)-based UHF trunked radio networks.
What customers and markets are you taking over from pdvWireless? A Beep acquired pdvWireless’ customers in the Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix metropolitan markets. pdvWireless is still the owner of the MOTOTRBO systems, and we are operating as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), taking over customer care, billing and collection services. We are well suited for this takeover, as we operate a large NEXEDGE network in parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
How large is the NEXEDGE system? Our NEXEDGE network is marketed under the trade name Diga-Talk and was one of the first NEXEDGE deployments in the United States. The system has grown in size and customer base into one of the largest SMR networks in the country. Last year, we used our experience and expertise to launch a PTT over cellular (PoC) solution.
Tell us about the PoC offering. We have developed a complete PoC portfolio consisting of mobile radios, portables, smartphone applications, and dispatch software. We also have an affordable gateway device to connect a legacy LMR radio to our PoC network. This system is marketed under the trade name Diga-Talk Plus. We believe PoC will be the great disruptor to legacy LMR. It will be extremely difficult for wide-area SMRs to compete with PoC. We now have a dealer program where dealers can resell the Diga-Talk Plus nationwide PTT service
In what vertical markets are your customers? The vertical markets for Diga-Talk are the historical verticals that SMRs have been selling to for decades. They are mostly fleet customers with transportation, construction, and service-oriented businesses. SMRs have always been limited to selling radios where they have good system coverage. Most of the installed customer base has vehicle-mounted radios. Few SMR networks are built for strong portable use. Once a customer has a portable, they assume it will work everywhere and are usually disappointed with its limitations.
Diga-Talk Plus has coverage wherever cellular service exists. We are no longer limited to market in known verticals. We see sales across a large spectrum of businesses from large fleets needing nationwide service to small specialty companies that need communications inside venues. Venues such as ballparks and schools can use this product. Large school systems with multiple buildings and campuses can now communicate without costly repeater systems, FCC licensing and backbones. PoC will definitely disrupt the traditional SMR business. The dealers participating in the PoC arena can successfully serve almost any business user anywhere.
Tell us about your partners. Our Diga-Talk NEXEDGE network has dealers in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin that added their systems, spectrum and tower sites to the network. This alliance works well, and the partners can sell wide-area PTT service under the Diga-Talk name.
We used the dealer experience for our Diga-Talk Plus program launch. We have 25 dealers signed up for Diga-Talk Plus and are receiving dealer inquiries daily. We are now setting up dealers nationwide. In February, we hired Patricia Ryg as national dealer manager for the service. Dealers are no longer limited to LMR system coverage or a manufacturer’s assigned territory. Dealers have access to the radios, service, and tools to be successful in this new PoC arena.
*This article was first published in the March 2019 issue of Mission Critical Communications www.MCCmag.com