Iridium-based global push-to-talk radio system trials completed

May 29, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Cambridge Consultants has completed initial trials with Iridium Communications of key components of the the US Department of Defense (DoD) Distributed Tactical Communications System (DTCS).

DTCS is the largest push-to-talk (PTT) radio system and enables soldiers in isolated areas to communicate without the need for ground infrastructure — and in locations where they often can’t pick up a geostationary satellite’s signal unless they move to higher ground.

The ‘netted’ group call communication system, involving listeners in designated user ‘nets', provides over-the-horizon, beyond line-of-sight tactical networks. Soldiers in remote combat zones or disaster areas are able to use lightweight handheld PTT radios to exchange mission-critical data with command centres across the globe, at the touch of a button.

Cambridge Consultants is delivering key technology elements for DTCS. Ongoing development is extending existing capabilities to allow voice and data to be transmitted and received from any location worldwide, for unrivalled tactical and operational use. Using its unique knowledge of the Iridium system, as well as commercial PTT services, Cambridge Consultants has developed radio transceiver electronics for DTCS handheld radios, as well as gateway infrastructure to support the DTCS service. Both of these elements are critical to the success of the system, with the gateway element ultimately targeting a ‘five nines’ (99.999%) reliability rating, to ensure that soldiers have service when they need it most.

The technology developed by Cambridge Consultants includes advanced software radio functionality that will provide multiple receiver capability and rapid synchronisation to Iridium satellites to enhance PTT connection speed and call quality. In addition, new encrypted bearer channels support encrypted communication within groups.