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Communications

DaveO

PlowSite.com Veteran
Location
Ma.
One of the threads I was reading touched on this subject. Keeping in contact with each other/home is important to us.

Cell phones are great, sometimes costly. Many contractors in my area have the "nextel" phones. They have an instant 2way feature like a radio that is very handy. An unlimited amount of 2 way "talk time" can be had, for a price.

The city's truck's and subs all use CB's on a designated channel. Works OK for them, some trucks have better radios/antennas than others.

Myself I have my pager in the truck, and cell phone. I also install a CB for truck to truck communications in large parking lots. If I was a larger biz, maybe would install 2 way FM radio's in the trucks.

What works for you guys??

Dave
 

iowastorm

Senior Member
I just purchased Nextel phones for myself and my 2 main guys. The 2 way feature is nice, but the main drawbacks are that the phones are $100+/per unit and the monthly fees that include the unlimited 2 way feature costs between $80 to $180, depending upon which service plan you buy for each phone.

Our plan is that as we grow, I will keep the Nextel phones for my main guys so we can communicate privately and then add Motorola VHF 2 way radios later on. Here is Des Moines, you can rent each radio for $25/month and an extra $11/month for the repeater space. I believe that cost to purchase each radio new is around $400, depending upon the unit, but you still need to rent the repeater space. Rental would be our mode of choice at this time, because there are months where we don't need them, so we can return them in the slow months.

The reason I lean to the radios is that cell phones can be a negative temptation for employees, as they tend to waste alot of company airtime and money on private and B.S. phone calls. Furthermore, w/ the 2 ways, you (or your field supervisors) can monitor all of the transmissions.
 

GeoffD

PlowSite.com Veteran
I was useing a Radio system which I bought used from a Local Fire department.

However This year we did a major communications upgrade, because the FD radio system range was so short. I have gone to the Kenworth biz band radios, which work very very well. Some

Geoff
 
We have two ways with a base - works OK until we get out of range.

Last Saturday, we hooked up our bag phones to a new plan from Bell Mobility (in Ontario). It seems great to me - 15 free calls to/from home per phone per month, and unlimited free calls BETWEEN phones. Let it snow, let it snow....

John (Ya, I'm back from logging)
 

Lazer

Senior Member
Nextel unlimited 2-way for all our guys.

Service starts at $55.00/mo. for unlimited 2-way. (Includes 150 phone minutes.)

Most of our guys have $80.00/mo. (600 minutes phone) My company pays 1/2 and employee pays 1/2 and it's their personal cell phone, too.
 

jimsmowin

Senior Member
Location
YORK PA.
I HAVE TRIED THEM ALL PHONES,CB'S,ETC. NOTHING BEATS A GOOD RADIO SYS. ON REPEATER. WE HAVE TWO MOBILES, TWO PORTABLES, ONE BASE WITH BATTERY BACK-UP. SYSTEM WORKS REALLY WELL
 

John Allin

PlowSite.com Addict
Location
Erie, PA
Two way radios on trunk system for our trucks and area supervisors. Nextel phones for our guys and lots of our subs have them too. CB's mandatory for all trucks, loaders, etc.
 

Chuck Smith

2000 Club Member
Location
NJ
Around here, 2 way radios are not the best choice, since the area is too saturated. You might be able to get a frequency, but you WILL have to share it. Nothing like waiting for someone who has nothing to do with your business to shut up, so you can communicate! Also, they get to hear all you say on the radio. I know that can be done with scanners too, but someone with a scanner wants to hear what you are saying.

~Chuck
 

Lazer

Senior Member
I wouldn't ever use a system like that Chuck.

Communicating like that would be like plowing with a Meyers! ;)

(Sorry)

There's 3 legit (MHO) for 2-way radios:
1. Your own repeater exclusively for your fleet.
2. A "trunked" 2-way: your service provider will have multiple channels on standby and when you "key-up" it searches for an open channel and brings all your units on line to that frequency. You can possibly hear by scanner, but your fleet may be on any one of 15 (or as many as they have) different frequencies.
3. NEXTEL
 

GeoffD

PlowSite.com Veteran
Ok,

I have the Kenworth Radios
Trucks, loaders,backhoes, and anything for snow gets a radio installed.

I have a base station at the shop, and some portables.

I have my own frequency that is used only by my company. This isn't cheap, however sometimes important information for jobs is said over the radio. If the information gets misunderstood because someone else is on our frequency, and the job is done wrong, it could cost us thousands of dollars (this is for utility work, not snow). I guess the company has repeaters and transmitters in many parts of the state, which allows me to have a very large coverage area.

BTW the new radio system is much better than the old fire department radios, which had a coverage area big enough for snow opperations only.

Geoff
 

iowastorm

Senior Member
Have any of you guys converted your CB's or used the sidebands of CB's and what kind of range did you get?? I know that terrain and equipment effect performance, but I'm just curious about general reception.

I know that renting repeater or air space here in Central IA isn't too bad, but never gave thought to frequency bleedover or others listening in. Good point.
 

CCLC

Member
After using Nextel, I'll never go back to anything else. We have 3 of them. They are expensive ($35, $55, $65 per month) but we feel that communication is most important. We don't like the cellular quality of nextel and there are alot of dead spots but 99% of the time they are fine for us.
 

diggerman

Senior Member
Location
Ames
We have radios in the big trucks and all our employees have hand helds and three radios used as bases.Two employees beside my father and I have company cellphones and most others have their own. We have tried CBs but they stink for dependability especially when we are use radios year round all day everyday.We thought about next tell but right now the range is poor and our big truck travel alot.
 
OP
D

DaveO

PlowSite.com Veteran
Location
Ma.
Storm,

Before cell phones were common we used the modified CB/10 meter radios. Range on SSB(sideband) was good. Sometimes over 30 miles(mobile to base) on quiet nights. SSB required FINE tuning the xmit/rec freqs a lot, especially during warmup. So we mostly used AM, with reduced range(~5 miles).

CB's were also vulnerable to "skip". Sometimes you could talk to S. America better than your buddy 3 miles away. They did work for us most of the time. In more urban areas, the channels were very congested. FYI, the radio's we used were HIGHLY modified, and usually had additional power added(150+watts).

Cell phones are nice because you only have to hear it ring, unlike a CB. The channels are more private, and coverage/range is better. But you are usually limited to speaking to one individual at a time. With a 2 way radio, you could call your entire crew using ONE transmission.

My friends with the NEXTELs like them. They are always getting cut off or breaking up though. Even in areas with GOOD coverage.

IMO the best system would be a "trunk" type, or repeater setup to ensure enough range. These are NOT cheap, but like Geoff said, they are worth it. Backing up this system would be your cells and or pagers.

Dave
 

iowastorm

Senior Member
We do use Nextel right now, but I don't want to buy cell phones for my employees as we expand. I thought the CB's using SSB would need extensive modification, so I think down the road we'll go to 2 way radios w/ repeater. Too bad a guy can't use 2 meter ham on simplex (around here we can go 20-30 miles on simplex), but I don't feel like getting busted for using ametuer radio for business use. Not good.
 

GeoffD

PlowSite.com Veteran
I Know my old system required it's own antena. My new system uses the Radio Companies Antenas and repeaters.

If you should be able to get away with useing them truck to truck with out a repeater and antena system. This works even better if they are programmed with a talk around frequency. However during a snow stom don't expect perfect communications on the outer 18-20 miles.

Talk around allows two opperators working in a certian area, to talk to each other with out everyone hearing them. This way if you have an exevator operator communicating with a guy in a truck on jobsite a, the crew on jobsite b, can talk to the rest of the company without hearing the trafic on jobsite a. Talk around is a localized frequency, that isn't broadcasted accross the the whole coverage area. So it is possible to have multiple groups of people on the talk around channel.

Geoff
 

Michael F

Senior Member
Location
Rochester, NY
We use cell phones, free in between phones,and 8pm-7am to outside line, as well as to other customers of that cel co., cost for 4 phones around $ 150-175 per mo. Cost should go down, I'm renewing my contract and will purchase additional minutes for outside calls, seems like I'm never in the office durring business hours
 

plowking35

2000 Club Member
Location
SE CT
We use all digital cell phones. My subs and my guys all use the same service provider. Right now we get 450 min per month free nights and weekends with a rate plan of 29.99 per month. For $10 more I add free mobile to mobil access. So anyone that I call that uses verizon, doesnt cost me a penny. It works fine 99% of the time, of course its that 1 % that ticks you off.
Dino
 
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