When companies weigh the relative merits of cell phones and two-way radios, there’s one group that has to stay top of mind: the users. These are the people actually using the equipment, after all. This series of articles has examined communications philosophy, urgency, coverage, reliability, and security. Now we turn our discussion of cell phones and two-way radios to users’ concerns, which center on durability and ease of use.
How many people you know have cracked the screen on their smartphone after it fell out of their pocket or purse? Some don’t even bother to get their phones repaired because they know in a few months, a new model will be available with a bigger screen and a better camera.
Two-way radios last for years because they’re built to higher standards. Among them are Military Standards 810C, D, and E, which govern variables like pressure, temperature, rain, humidity, salt fog, dust, vibration, and shock. FM Global certifies industrial and commercial products and services, issuing its FM Approved mark to signify they will perform as expected. Some radios are even built to be intrinsically safe, which means they won’t become an ignition source in environments with high levels of dust or flammable gases, such as mines and petrochemical plants.
BearCom is supplying two-way radios to Expedition Outreach, a charitable organization trying to set the Guinness Book World Record for the fastest alpine face-first luge. BearCom is supplying the team with two Motorola HT Series radios, and it chose the HT Series in part for its durability. “Increasing our level of safety is what handheld radios are all about,” team leader Michael Coyne said a while back. “I’ve done climbs with radios and without. Having them creates a much broader safety margin, along with increasing the perception of safety and team morale.”
Another thing Michael and his team will appreciate is that radios are simpler than smartphones and are thus much easier to use. That’s important in situations where people are focused on their work in sometimes-dangerous environments. When Michael and his team are on that mountaintop, no one will be playing Angry Birds, finding a restaurant, or taking a call from their Aunt Sue.
Two-way radios are in their element at work. They perform well for people who want to talk quickly and need dependable equipment—even when they’ve been knocked around.
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