Cell Phones won't Replace Mobile Radios any time soon

Mar 22, 2021

A small handheld land mobile radio.
Credit Creative Commons

At a recent budget work session, Mayor Ken Castner had a question about communications equipment used by city employees. He asked City Information Manager Nick Poolos if cell phones were going to replace mobile radios any time soon.

“What’s the deal with radios?,” he asked. “Why are we still using radios around Homer when we have great cell phone coverage?”

“Cell phone do not work when you're in a moving vehicle safely. The cell phone networks go up, go down,” Poolos said. “Cell phone networks require a central call processing system that is out of state. And in fact, when COVID started up the entire first responder network cell phone network within the state exceeded capacity. We couldn't even place calls inbound and outbound for multiple months off-and-on during peak times. So cell phones are not a replacement for land mobile radio.”

    In fact, it’s not even a matter of them being a stop-gap until cell phone service improves. Poolos said the city needs to plan to use mobile radios well into the future.

“In fact, the chiefs and I are going to probably be looking at another 20 year plan for land mobile radio,” he said. “LMR is going nowhere. Our system's going nowhere. Radio is going to stay there for the foreseeable future.”