Demand for land-mobile-radio (LMR) systems  in North America “if anything, continues to go up,” despite media reports of declining LMR licensing activity in the United States, Motorola Solutions Chairman and CEO Greg Brown said last week during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call.

Brown said that he was “not surprised … at all” by a recent story by IWCE’s Urgent Communications highlighting all-time low levels of LMR licensing activity in the U.S. However, the statistics should not be interpreted as a lack of demand for LMR systems, he said.

“Number one, a large number of customers are converting to P25 TDMA,” Brown said during the conference call, which was webcast. “That has a two-to-one spectral efficiency, so you literally would need half the license that you previously would need as you move to upgrade to a more efficient P25 TDMA deployment. In addition to that—number two—we’re seeing more customers increase statewide and regionwide deployments, taking advantage of the 700 MHz [narrowband] frequencies. The impact is the same.

“Demand, if anything, continues to go up for LMR. But the actual system or spectrum licenses could decline, because the systems are spread over new bands, and they’re much more spectrally efficient.

“The last thing that I’d mention is that I know that [article] referenced a spike period of several years ago associated with narrowbanding. So, while I think it’s interesting, I do not think it’s a good proxy or correlation to use to judge the demand for our land-mobile-radio business—in particular for P25, because all systems are green over a sustainable period of time and for the second half of this year.”

Indeed, Motorola Solutions has seen “pretty steady” demand for LMR system in North America during the last 10 quarters, dating back to the beginning of 2015, Brown said.

“Product backlog, which is a reasonable indicator for visibility going forward, is up $400 million from a North American perspective over the same 10 quarters,” he said. “And the thing that I’m particularly pleased about in Q2 is the systems demand.

“When these land-mobile-radio platforms or systems go in, they’re going in for the long term, which you will then load with subscriber devices, which you will then add to with agencies and secondary and tertiary users, and they typically go in with 10- and 15-year maintenance agreements. So, I think the demand has been pretty steady.”

While there has been considerable industry interest surrounding a potential transition from LMR voice systems to cellular-based solutions—push-to-talk-over-cellular (PoC) for enterprises and mission-critical-push-to-talk (MCPTT) for public-safety—Motorola Solutions has not seen a shift in the marketplace, Brown said.

“There’s a difference between push-to-talk over cellular and mission-critical-push-to-talk [MCPTT] over cellular,” Brown said. “I think the demand we’re seeing for land-mobile-radio systems and product backlog—along with customers buying these brand-new systems with 10- and 15-year maintenance [agreements]—speaks to what they think firsthand that North America-led, U.S.-led durability and criticality of land mobile radio here.

“I think you’ll hear and read about other push-to-talk solutions. The confusing thing is that some people will call it mission-critical push-to-talk, whether they reference it in 3GPP Release 13 or 14 or now they’re talking about Release 15. But I don’t think it changes what we’re seeing, which is continued strong demand for P25 systems, U.S.-led.”