Why HF Radio?
High Frequency (HF) radio is used for first-line and backup communications over long distances, mainly in remote regions of the developed world and in developing countries.
Government and private organisations are continually searching for the most flexible, reliable and cost effective solutions for their remote, emergency and security communications needs.
In today’s world of instant voice, email, messaging, fax and GPS navigation, what has High Frequency (HF) radio to offer? Surprisingly perhaps, HF radio provides all of these options and has several important advantages over other communications media.
HF radio will never replace fixed and mobile telephony as the first communications option for the general public, but for organisations involved in emergency, remote and military communications it is a vital and irreplaceable wireless communications tool.
Long Range Communications Capability
Whilst VHF and UHF radio is also commonly used for short-range line-of sight (LOS) communications, only HF is capable of communicating over distances of 3000 km or more.
Minimal Infrastructure Requirements
Unlike conventional, Voice Over IP (VoIP), cellular and satellite telephony, which all rely upon land-based infrastructure, an HF radio network requires minimal infrastructure. As such it is often the only reliable means of communication when disaster strikes.
HF radio is simple and quick to deploy and provides communications capability for users no matter where they are. Fixed base stations can be used to communicate with other bases or to provide command and control for mobile (vehicle-mounted) and portable (manpack) users in the field.
HF radio can be used to communicate with existing VHF and UHF radio systems, cellular telephones and land-based telephones through developments in cross-patching technology that make this as easy as dialling a telephone number.
Low Cost of Ownership
Compared with satellite telephony, the most common alternative technology for communications of last resort, HF radio is the economical choice. Once the initial investment in equipment is made, there are no call costs or ongoing monthly line or equipment rentals. Also, HF radio equipment is built tough to withstand the extreme conditions, which proves to be very cost-effective.
Command and Control
The nature of emergency planning requires that simultaneous communications be made to and amongst a number of operators in a command and control style network. This facilitates situational awareness amongst the users and external organisations that can also be included in the network. HF radio provides this capability in all base station, mobile (vehicle-mounted) and portable manpack configurations of the radio network.
Security of Communications
Where communications are sensitive, HF radio offers technologies to ensure the security of voice and data transmissions. The military uses HF radio as its primary communications medium and from the military have come a number of enhancements in voice encryption and frequency hopping which guarantee secure communications. For non-military use, different levels of encryption are available to suit the individual organisation’s security requirements.