A Icom VHF radio that connects to the mobile phone network…

Due on sale this spring, Icom’s new IP-M60 will be the world’s first VHF/LTE hybrid radio. What this radio gives you is the ability to transmit on any VHF radio while offshore and then be patched into the mobile phone network by somebody with an IP-M60 receiving your transmission.

Icom IP-M60

However, this does not mean you can speak to anybody on any mobile phone network, as they have to have an IP-M60, which will be part of a pre-designated private network. Each radio has a SIM card that connects in the normal manner using LTE 3G/4G, for which there is a monthly charge. It can also transmit through any of the marine VHF channels in the usual way, using simplex one-way transmission. Each radio can only connect to the radios on the network, with users being able to be added or removed as and when. However, in VHF mode, the IP-M60 can talk to anybody with a VHF radio on the same VHF frequency, which is where ‘Bridge Mode’ comes in. Bridge Mode effectively connects any voice communication from LTE to VHF or vice versa at the press of a switch. The IP-M60 has two PTT (press to talk) switches (LTE and VHF) and a bridge switch. When the bridge switch is pressed, anyone speaking on the LTE network is connected to whatever VHF channel the IP-M60 is set to. Alternatively, any incoming VHF transmission received by the IP-M60 is likewise patched through to the LTE network. There is the issue of simplex and duplex transmissions, insomuch as VHF transmits one-way – simplex – while LTE is duplex, where everybody can be heard simultaneously, which Icom have dubbed ‘Simultaneous TalkListen’. In this case, anyone using VHF to talk on the network will not hear the other user’s conversation while they have their finger on the PTT. You can specify whom you wish to talk to on your network, and you can break down the network into subgroups.

Bluetooth technology allows wireless operation and subsequent use of optional headsets and other compatible accessories. With an IP67 rating, this radio can withstand submersion in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes and transmitting at 6W in VHF mode. There is no need for a licence for onshore use, but for using afloat, conventional licensing will apply. The cost will be announced soon, as will the monthly service rate.

www.icomuk.co.uk

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