When Radio Communication Becomes A Matter Of Life Or Death

In addition to a daily responsibility to maintain national sovereignty, navies all over the world are undertaking an ever-increasing number of international assignments. This places new demands on technology and the need to communicate.

Imagine being on a military mission far out at sea and finding yourself in a life threatening situation with a desperate need to communicate. The actions you take in order to survive may need to be approved by high command, often contingent on information from people in different positions within the communication hierarchy. This sets off a chain of radio communication that often uses different technologies and frequencies, sometimes both on digital and analogue platforms. All these different standards create a critical bottleneck for the operator which, if you are unlucky, means it could take several hours before your message reaches the right person. During this time, it is very likely that your message has been repeated several times from person to person and there is a risk that it is misinterpreted by the time it reaches the right person. Your radio communication technology has now become a matter of survival.

What if there was a way that allowed these various means of communication to work together seamlessly in a single interface?

Integrated radio communication is the future

At present, it is common that navies communicate via older radio systems, but the versatility of today’s navy environment requires a different set-up. Scalability and flexibility are key and an efficient communication system must be able to handle everything that communicates, sometimes even mobile phones and other forms of digital communication.

But how do you upgrade a radio system – essentially composed of a number of different radios – without having to spend hundreds of millions? The answer is a solution that interconnects all communication technologies regardless of radio band, frequency and hardware. A complete and integrated communication solution based on voice over IP technology.

“We’re at the dawn of the IP age”

“We’re at the dawn of the IP age when it comes to modern day communication. Many navies are using old, sometimes really old, analogue radio systems and need to start looking for IP solutions that integrate both voice and data,” says Dennis Svane Christensen, who works with Saab’s IP-based integrated communication system TactiCall. “With TactiCall we can reuse our customers’ old systems and add a new integration capability to their existing infrastructure, saving a lot of money, functionality and time for the armed forces.”

As an example of how TactiCall works, consider an international task force assigned to save refugees at sea. Different nations all using their own radio systems participate in the task force and basically lack the means to communicate with each other effectively. A joint communication set-up would make a huge difference.

“With TactiCall we can easily link everybody to the same communications network. It doesn’t matter what kind of radios they turn up with, we just simply integrate them in TactiCall and everybody will be able to talk to each other, even across technologies – but still within a fully secure build,” Dennis says.

For the user there are no changes in working procedures or routines. Sailors will still use the radios they always use – the only difference being the possibility of cross-connection to any other radio or phone connected to the same network.  Since the system is IP-based it could also be part of another network on the other side of the globe.

“The need to communicate across domains and platforms has never been greater, and when taking all the aspects into consideration it becomes apparent that the technology behind your communication systems is really important,” says Dennis.

About TactiCall

TactiCall makes all communication systems – both voice and data – available through one interface. The system integrates all communication networks – internal and external, red and black – into one common, intuitive and user-friendly interface. The result is improved speed, workflow and communication in a fully secure environment. As the system is basically a software solution, it is completely independent of hardware and radio technology. It can therefore be fitted to the platform that is most practical for the operator, and the output devices can be handheld, headset, microphone and loudspeaker – wired or wireless.

Tactical Subscriber Station enables crew members to use any operator console on board a vessel. By logging in with their personal credentials, they gain access to the communication channels and networks needed for their specific roles. In the unlikely event of an operator console failure, the crew member can use any other console to complete their assignment. Instead of having three or four devices in front of the operator, such as phones, radios, displays, etc., they just have one single communications console with an extremely efficient HMI.