Technology is available that allows one to interface radio and telephone
together, as well as create their own telephone network that can be used
in emergencies as well as in day to day operations. Through the
software package known as Asterisk the necessary resources are available
to build a PBX (Private Base eXchange) and RF Gateway.
What is important about this is in the fact that both the PBX and RF
Gateway can be used through a high speed multiple media network without
having a connection to the Internet. Also when the "last mile"
conditions exist RF Gateways can be used to provide a means to deliver
information to those that are more familiar with using a telephone than
a radio (as standard telephones can connect with a PBX, with normal
dial / ring tone available).
Rapid deployment kits can be built that provide all the necessary
equipment for both the PBX and RF Gateway when made possible a PBX / RF
Gateway can be put into place that allows remote access even when away
from a building. For those with "smart phones" that have WiFi
capabilities apps are available that allow one to use the PBX resources
to make contact with RF Gateways, send voice mail as well as video
For those that have access to the Internet via Satellite, resources are
available that allow you to connect to distant PBX / RF Gateways which
can provide another method for providing communication support. One can
also create a simplified RF Gateway by using auto-answer capabilities of
a software phones (softphones) and IP phones. Through the use of RF
Gateways, extended coverage is available by adding additional "last
As for EchoLink there's some problems that make it challenging to use
in emergency operations. Since EchoLink is half-duplex there's only one
operator that can talk at one time. This can create hazard when a
station with higher priority traffic is blocked by existing radio
traffic. This problem does not exist with Asterisk as the control
operator can monitor all traffic in full-duplex. Another problem with
EchoLink is in the fact that one needs to make contact with the primary
database for authentication. With Asterisk one can create a "node list"
that is available without making contact with a primary database. One
can use Asterisk to create amateur and commercial radio networks, while
EchoLink only allows amateur radio networks.