Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals. Ever increasing operational demands on first responders, along with new technological opportunities and capabilities, are driving Public Safety Organizations to adopt broadband technologies such as Long Term Evolution  for mission critical data. While access to broadband data is improving public safety operations and providing new applications, voice remains the most critical communications capability.

Catalyst developed technology in the early 2000’s to dispatch to Verizon 3G cellular phones with Push to Talk capabilities and has maintained a working relationship with both Verizon and AT&T since that time. As these networks are evolving to LTE, Catalyst continues to work with both carriers, and is developing  has recently developed an interface to Kodiak Networks who have developed a solution to integrate Land Mobile Radio systems with LTE networks using the P25 CSSI standard. Catalyst Consoles employ the CSSI interface to communicate with the Kodiak solution to create interoperability between various LMR systems and mobile phones with push to talk capability.

Catalyst to Chair the DMR Association Workshop at IWCE



IWCE – The International Wireless communications Expo – is one of the leading trade show events for radio communications technologies, and Catalyst has been an exhibitor and attendee since our inception. In past years, as Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) has accelerated traction in the marketplace, we have supported our DMR Association membership with proactive contributions at IWCE by promoting the DMR movement with presentations, manning the DMR Association booth, and promoting DMR in our own booth.

This year, we’ll take a leadership role when Robin Grier chairs the DMR Association workshop.  The Workshop is The Advantages of Digital Mobile Radio and it’s on
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 from 8:30 am – 11:30 am.

We’ll have more info about the session topics as we get closer to IWCE. If you’re planning to be in Las Vegas for the trade show, be sure to check out this session and update on where we are with DMR deployments.

Getting Ready for IWCE

IWCE is one of two major trade shows (the second being APCO) that Catalyst attends andimage4 has a prominent presence with booth and speaking presentations.

Since 1977, the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) has been the authoritative annual event for communications technology professionals in critical communications. We join over 370 other exhibitors showcasing the latest products and trends in the communications industry.

Over 7,000 individuals attend from a diverse group of industry professionals including government/military; public safety (law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical & 911); utility; transportation and business. This year’s show will be held March 27-31, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Catalyst starts its prep for this show this week – March is just around the corner – and this year promises to be an exciting show, with new product and capabilities demonstrated that help improve the performance of First Responders across the globe.

Understanding AIS – the DMR Application Interface Specification

Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) is an open digital mobile radio standard defined in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Standard and used in radio products around the world. DMR, along with P25, Tetra and NXDN are the main competitor technologies in achieving 6.25 kHz equivalent bandwidth.

The DMR Association has approved a protocol for use by dispatch consoles in either Tier II (conventional) or Tier III (Trunking) systems. This protocol is known as “AIS” – Application Interface Specification – and provides a baseline for a console to interface with a DMR radio system.

One of the advantages of the AIS protocol for DMR is that it enables dispatch consoles to connect to an Ethernet port on Base Stations or Repeaters and communicate using IP. This method greatly simplifies installation and provides significant cost savings. In addition, an IP connection enables the console to be physically separated from the DMR system but connected using standard IT equipment.

Since an AIS interface connects directly into infrastructure, it can’t be compared to a wireless connection, also called a control station or donor radio. For example, connecting into four talk groups or channels using gateway connections to four control stations could include the expense of four gateways, four radios, four power supplies, four antennas, etc. The AIS interface to infrastructure is a single cable regardless of the number of radio channels.

Compared to a wireless interface, AIS has significant advantages. Spectrum utilization is excellent as a wide area radio system only needs to consume channels in the geographic area of the subscriber radios, not the donor radios. The wireline interface provides flexibility for managing large numbers of talk groups as opposed to attempting to allocate subsets of talk groups to different donor radios. AIS reduces the chance that a console operator will miss a call or an emergency indication versus the donor radio approach.

Catalyst, as a member of the DMR association, assisted with the standards process. The AIS solution offers high-level functionality and enhanced features to DMR users of various manufacturers’ radio systems that comply with the standard.

Catalyst’s IP|AIS Gateway software solution supports digital audio and user control to the Tier III DMR radio system through a single Ethernet interface. Sophisticated dispatch user control and communication is realized through an intuitive Windows based graphical user interface. Catalyst’s consoles provide dispatch for DMR Tier III systems and supports features like Unit ID with alias translation, Texting, Emergency Signaling, Group Calling, Emergency Group Calls, custom graphics for each talk group, roaming for dispatchers, and instant playback. Catalyst’s IntelliLink solution with AIS allows wireline interoperability with the DMR system and wireline or wireless interfaces to other radio systems such as Project 25, LTR, SmartNet, EDACS, and more depending on the technology.

Catalyst and the Harris – Tait Relationship


Harris customers wishing to migrate from their legacy systems to Tait radios now have an elegant migration solution. Since Catalyst has developed Dispatch and Interoperability for EDACS via XG-75M, XG-100M, Opensky via M5300, and P25 via XG-75M, XG-100M and CSSI, and for Tait, DMR Tier III via Wireline Interface (AIS or Application Interface Specification) and Conventional P25 via Wireline Interface (DFSI or Digital Fixed Station Interface), seamless interoperability through our Intellilink gateways can be achieved.

This can be accomplished without a console! Of course, if you’re looking for a console that integrates the whole system, we have you covered here also.



What do you know about AppComm?

Once upon a time, the most popular functions of phones were calling and sending texts. Today, mobile applications are powerful and popular. The first Apps on first generation mobile phones – at least those with small, monochrome displays, date back to the end of the twentieth century. Typically, they were small arcade games, ring tone editors, calculators, calendars, and so forth.

The beginning of the new millennium saw a rapid market evolution of mobile content and applications. Operating systems for smart phones (Windows Mobile, Symbian, RIM, Android, Mac iOS), are open to the development of third-party software, unlike the conventional programming environment of standard cell phones.


Fast forward to today and public safety and … Apps. Ever heard of AppComm? AppComm is APCO International’s online Application Community.  The website tracks a collection of mobile applications related to public safety and emergency response for use by the general public and first responders.  AppComm is also a forum where public safety professionals, the general public, and app developers can discuss and rate apps, identify unmet needs, and submit ideas for apps they’d like to see built.

AppComm segments Apps into 9-1-1, Alerts, EMS, Police, Fire, and Other. There are Apps for both the general public and for First Responders. Most are free, some charge a small price. You can’t download Apps from AppComm. You still have to go to Google Play or the iTunes store to download the App. However, AppComm lists over 180 Apps that have been developed for the public safety marketplace.

There is a terrific forum on AppComm to present ideas for public safety Apps. This part of the website explores ideas for developers who want to build and app for 9-1-1, Public Safety Field operations, including guidelines for police, fire and EMS Apps, and there’s a section where AppComm presents ideas for Apps that could be useful to the community.

Check out AppComm when you can and learn about one new frontier of the Apps world – Public Safety!


That’s a lot of Gear!


Our Shipment to the Honolulu Police and Honolulu Fire Departments, where Catalyst supports these First Responders with our critical communications Dispatch Consoles. This is a hardware upgrade we’re executing for them – A total of 7 pallets, approx. 2,708 lbs. 36 gateway computer servers at 8 radio sites, and 33 consoles at 4 sites.

And, some of our lucky techs get a trip to Honolulu to support this installation. Work! Work! Work!



Catalyst and The Burning Man


100 miles north of Reno, in the Great Basin area of northern Nevada, lays the Black Rock Desert. The region is notable for its paleogeologic features, as an area of 19th-century Emigrant Trails to California, as a venue for rocketry, and as an alternative to the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, for setting land speed records.

It is also the location for the annual Burning Man Festival.

Burning Man is an annual gathering that takes place at Black Rock City—a temporary community erected in the Black Rock Desert. First held in 1986, Burning Man 2016 was held between August 28 and September 5, 2016.

At Burning Man the community explores various forms of artistic self-expression including experimental and interactive sculpture, building, performance, music , art and other mediums, often inspired by the yearly theme, chosen by organizers. Participation is a key precept for the community. Close to 70,000 people attended the 2016 Burning Man Festival.

A crowd of that size needs – temporarily – safety services commensurate with a city the size of Lynchburg (pop.78,000) and the Bureau of Land Management(BLM), who manage and protect the Black Rock Desert lands, looked to Forest VA’s own  Catalyst Communications Technologies for their safety and administration Radio Dispatch needs. On short notice, Catalyst built and installed a Dispatch Operations center with 6 console positions that could communicate with fire, law enforcement, EMS, BLM Staff and Burning Man staff organizers during the 10 day Festival through a radio network of eight tower sites.

Catalyst implemented an unique design concept for the Dispatch system. BLM wanted a system they could easily deploy, pack up, and re-deploy year after year in their temporary command center. To simplify setup, Catalyst installed a Dispatch Console that included a monitor, computer, speakers and microphone assembled as a single unit. The unified console system drops into a storage box as a unit and can be re-deployed simply next year. The computers that control each of the base station radios were similarly designed for easy implementation, using new, compact computers in a simple to deploy rack.

During the Burning Man Festival, radio dispatch was in operation 24 x 7 to process radio communications; everything from vehicle registration and license checks, to ambulance calls, to law enforcement. Next year, Burning Man Festival attendees can expect safe and reliable radio communications thanks in part to technology developed right here in Forest VA from Catalyst Communications Technologies.

Harris Tait Partnership provides new opportunities for Catalyst

Earlier this month, Harris and Tait Communications announced an exclusive exclusive agreement between the two companies, including integrating the two vendors’ distribution channels.

Under the agreement, Harris becomes the master exclusive distributor for all of Tait’s Picture1products, including Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) and Project 25 (P25), in North America. The announcement comes at the end of Harris’ DMR agreement with Hytera, whereby Harris was reselling DMR equipment from Hytera under the Harris name.

Harris and Tait are in the middle of their integration rollout plan, and it will be interesting to learn how the two companies products are positioned vis-a-vis each other, especially in mixed networks. This is where Catalyst can provide a major role for customers looking to take advantage of the new partnership.

One strong application for Catalyst is with current EDACS customers wishing to migrate to TAIT DMR. Since Catalyst has intelligent user interfaces to both Harris and Tait radios, including AIS, DFSI, CSSI, & Control Station Interfaces, these radios can exist on a single IP network managed with Catalyst Consoles. And, 2016-08-29_1035 Catalyst Interoperability solutions provide a migration path for customers who wish to move from EDACS to DMR, EDACS to P25 Conventional, Etc. with or without Catalyst Consoles.

Another strong use case for Catalyst solutions is with Tait Conventional P25 radios.  Catalyst Consoles and Interoperability solutions control Tait DMR Trunking Systems and Tait P25 conventional base stations today. The same cannot be said of the current line of Harris Consoles, including Symphony(r).

The industry should be pleased with the partnership, as consolidation can often simplify service and solution choices. Knowing that strong third party solutions that complement these partnerships exist and enhance application capabilities is especially helpful to customers.