Police to Test New Communications

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By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK The Namibian Police, in conjunction with MTC, are testing the mobile phone company’s new Push to Talk (PTT) facility over the December festive season. Push to Talk is a novel two-way communications system that could potentially replace the walkie-talkies currently used by police and emergency services. PTT uses the existing mobile phone network, but uses the GPRS channel rather than the regular channel used for voice calls. The handsets are very similar to ordinary mobile phone handsets except for being equipped with an extra button on the side used for PTT communication. They have dual-mode operation, meaning it is possible to use them for either PPT or normal cellular phone calls. MTC General Manager: Corporate Services, Albertus Aochamub, said the advantage of this is that it frees people from having to carry both a cell phone and a two-way radio. In PTT mode, it will otherwise be very similar to using a two-way radio in the sense that only one person can speak at a time. This means users will have to follow the same basic protocol as when using a two-way radio. The handsets will display a special list of pre-arranged PTT contacts, which a user can then select to call. Two-way radios can normally only operate within a limited radius, but with PTT people will be able to contact each other wherever there is a mobile phone network, even when hundreds of kilometres apart. According to Aochamub, with PTT it will not be possible to eavesdrop on communications because the signal is encrypted in the same way mobile phone calls are. At present, anyone with knowledge of the frequencies used by the police can listen in to their communications. From a cost point of view, PTT communication will be much cheaper than normal cell phone calls – in all likelihood closer to SMS than voice calls. A statement released by the company said MTC Managing Director JosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© Ferreira, speaking at the official hand-over of the test phones to the Namibian Police, emphasised the importance of equipping the national security and emergency services with the latest technologies to execute their functions well. “Namibia has a world-class mobile network and it is important that we avail the latest solutions to all our customers. PTT is one such innovation we wish to launch in the new year and the police service will have the privilege to test the functionalities,” he added. Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Lt General Sebastian Ndeitunga, thanked MTC for making the test equipment available to his forces. “This is a private-public partnership we are proud to embrace. Our officers in the field will appreciate any improvements in the costs of communication and efficiency of service delivery that PTT will give us,” Ndeitunga said. MTC said the trial is for December 2006 as part of the National Road Safety campaign Xupifa Eemwenyo, before a commercial launch takes place in 2007.