A few words on comms, PMRs and mobile phones.

July 15, 2014 sliabh Game NewsRionegro Insurgency

This is something I said on one of the private fora, but it’s worth mentioning here as well.

Most people at the event will use PMR radios. This is great, but please understand the limitations of the technology. And in particular make sure you are bringing a decent handset.

PMRs in general are good but not that great a technology. In theory they have a range of 8km, but then in theory a mobile phone has a range of 50km*. The reality is that that range is for a lab quality set up, line of sight, and absolutely perfect stratospheric conditions. Out in the real world you can half that straight away. And then halve it again every time one of the following applies:

  • Poor weather (rain, fog, snow)
  • Hilly ground between you the other person
  • Wooded ground
  • Buildings/built up areas.

And then half it again for having gear that is not good. Add all of those things up and you shouldn’t be surprised when you can’t get comms to work with someone a couple of hundred meters from your position.

Radios in general are one of those things where you get what you pay for. There is a reason Motorola are a world leader in this space (about 60% market share, even the Chinese police I saw in Tiananmen square use Motorolas). Bargain Aldi/Lidl radios are cheap for a reason. Worse – you will find that not only do you have poor comms, but they also can interfere with everyone else’s as well as transmissions bleed over into adjacent bands. If what you have is an Aldi/Lidl/Argos (e.g. silvercrest) one then it would be best to leave it at home.

In general unless you know what you are doing radio comms should be left to the section leads and the unit commanders. And they should have at least something like a Motorola XTR466.

All that being said, PMR is still cheap, it’s unlicensed, it’s widely available and it’s easy to use. Just understand its limitations. And don’t buy/bring crap radios!

It’s worth mentioning as well that we have no problem with people using mobiles for inter unit communications. And in some cases such “simulated satellite phones” are the preferred game option.

* Disclosure I work in the mobile business.

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