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Private Mobile Radio (PMR)

When Private or Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) first started the systems simply consisted of a single base station with a number of mobiles that could communicate with this single base station. These systems are still in widespread use today with taxi firms and many others using them for communication. Now facilities such as DTMT and CTCSS provide additional calling selection.

In view of the fact that the antenna may be mounted on a high tower, coverage may extend up to distances of 50 kilometers, although ranges somewhat less than this are more usual, especially when antennas are not as high.

Licenses are allocated for operation on a particular channel or channels. The user can then have use of these channels to contact the mobile stations in his fleet. The base station may be run by the user himself or it may be run by an operating company who will hire out channels to individual users. In this way a single base station with a number of different channels can be run by one operator for a number of different users and this makes efficient use of the base station equipment. The base station site can also be located at a position that will give optimum radio coverage, and private lines can be provided to connect the users control office to the transmitter site.

As there is no incremental cost for the transmissions that are made, individual calls are not charged, but instead there is a rental for overall use of the system. For those users with their own licenses they naturally have to pay for the license and the cost of purchase and maintenance of the equipment.

Selective calling
Many systems operate with the remote or mobile stations being able to hear all the calls being made. This may not always be satisfactory and a system of selective calling may be required. There are two ways of achieving this. One is to use a system known as Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signaling whereas the other uses Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS).

DTMF is s system that is widely used for telephone signaling and is almost universally used for touch tone dialing for landline telephones today. It uses set pairs of tones are used to carry the information. The eight frequencies used are 697, 770, 852, 941 Hz as what are termed the "low tones" and 1209, 1336, 1477, and 1633 Hz as what are termed the "high tones". One high and one low tone are used together and the various combinations are used to represent different numbers.

The relevant code consisting of one or more digits is sent and the station programmed to respond to the number, typically one or two digits responds by opening the squelch on the receiver to let the audio through. The disadvantage of this system is that if the receiver does not pick up the code at the instant the DTMF signaling takes place then it will not respond to any of the message. This can be a significant disadvantage because mobile stations often loose the signal for short periods as they are on the move.

The other widely used system is CTCSS. The system may also be referred to asd sub audible tones or PL tones (a Motorola trademark). As the name suggests it uses sub audible tones (below about 250 Hz) to carry the selection information. These are transmitted in addition to the normal voice channel, but as they appear below the normal audio range they are filtered out and they are not heard.

Only when the correct tone for the required station is transmitted will the squelch for that receiver be opened and the transmitted audio will be heard. The advantage of this system is that the sub audible tones are transmitted for the whole period of the transmission so if the signal fades at the beginning of the transmission is lost but later then increases in strength, the continuously transmitted tones will enable the squelch to open and the audio to be heard. Systems typically are able to provide up to 37 different tones, the lowest frequency of which is 67 Hz and the highest 250.3 Hz. This enables a variety of different mobiles to be called selectively.

In general narrow band frequency modulation is the chosen form of modulation, although airport services use amplitude modulation. Typically a deviation of 2.5 kHz is used for FM and this enables a channel spacing of 12.5 kHz to be implemented. As the demands for PMR are high, it is necessary to make effective use of the channels available. This is achieved by re-using the frequencies in different areas. Base stations must be located sufficiently far apart so that interference is not experienced, and also selective calling techniques such as CTCSS and DTMF are used to ensure that as many mobiles as possible can use a given channel.




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