Global revenue from cost-optimised digital licenced mobile radio (LMR) deployments exceeded $1 billion for the first time in 2017, according to research performed by IHS Markit’s Ryan Darrand, senior analyst, critical communications.

Cost-optimised digital technologies is a term coined by IHS Markit, which includes include digital mobile radio (DMR), next generation digital narrowband (NXDN) and professional digital trunking (PDT). Deployments of these grew by 16 per cent in 2017, compared to an average growth of seven per cent growth for the overall LMR market. Darrand’s research also reports that more than three million users adopted cost-optimised digital technologies for the first time in 2017 and he expects the installed base of these solutions to more than double between 2017 and 2022. Darrand expects such technologies to remain the fastest growing global LMR technologies, at least until 2022.

The growth seen to date has been underpinned by the existence of multi-tiered options, increasing competition, and advances in capabilities, which together have resulted in an increasingly cost-effective migration path from analogue to digital communications.

While Darrand notes that 2017 was also the year that digital LMR users outnumbered analogue users for the first time, he adds that there remains a huge opportunity for the market to continue to digital. In addition, the deployment of trunked networks has increased significantly over the last couple of years, as transportation hubs, utility companies, mines, and public safety and security organisations have adopted these technologies.

The largest markets for cost-optimised digital technology in 2017 were North America and Asia, with the latter being the fastest-growing market, accounting for half of all deployments.

Despite the emergence of LTE and next-generation mobile broadband technology, IHS Markit expects LMR adoption to continue to grow. It also predicts that over the next few years, LTE will complement critical voice with data, rather than replace LMR altogether. Only in the medium- to long-term of five to ten years, as capital investments are considered in nationwide or large-scale deployments, will LTE substitute for TETRA, Tetrapol and other high-end LMR technologies.

Author: Sam Fenwick