Supporting Leicester FC solve poor radio performance issues

Following promotion to the Premier League in May 2014, the first time in ten years that Leicester City had played in the highest tier of English football, the club decided to upgrade its radio communications systems.

As Paul Lewis, operations manager, Leicester City FC, explains, the promotion provided an ideal opportunity for the club to migrate from its existing analogue system to a digital solution. “As we were having issues with the analogue signals, we decided to move to digital. Principally because it offered more security and clarity, but also because it was up-to-date.”

As Lewis explains, the previous analogue handsets were approaching obsolescence. In cooperation with long-term communications supply partner, Consam Communications, a migration from analogue to digital based on Hytera handportables was initiated during the off-season period.

“We had looked at the other manufacturers,” says Nick Wainwright of Consam Communciations, “and after various discussions with LCFC we decided on Hytera as the manufacturer that offered the best combination of features, an open protocol, small size and competitive pricing.”

In total 110 Hytera radios were deployed. The fleet includes four slim-line X1p high tier keypad radios and the entry level Hytera PD605 basic, fully waterproof radios. The users are already experiencing benefits, just four home league games into the season.

In an often harsh and loud environment, radio users were finding the analogue system suffered from radio interference and weak signals. The signal could be blocked and voice calls were often inaudible when received.

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When we started looking for a replacement, we started looking at Motorola and other manufacturers, and Hytera came out top on quality and price. And it wasn’t until speaking with them that I found out that the prisons and the Ministry of Justice use it. There’s a background for potentially difficult situations such as ours, and their tendering and procuring procedure is probably more robust than our requirement. It is comforting to know that information in order to back-up our decision and know it’s right.”

Wainwright adds: “We have been dealing with LCFC for 10 + years, and have supplied traditional analogue radios in the past. Once LCFC were promoted to the Premier league, the need for a radio upgrade became obvious. After several discussions with the customer LCFC decided that a DMR system was the way forward.

“Although the system is now far bigger than it was previously, the Hytera PD605 radios are very simple to operate, and have no unnecessary buttons or features. As further system features are implemented, further end-user training will be undertaken.”

Ease of use was crucial given the tight time frame Consam was working within. “The system was installed on the Thursday before the first day of the premier season,” says Wainwright. “This meant that Consam only had a view hours to undertake full system testing before the system went live on the Saturday. Our engineers walked around every yard of the stadium and surrounding building and could detect no “black spots” that had been problematic with the previous analogue system.”

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