Comba

Corporate Member

Comba Telecom Systems Holding, Inc. is a very large ($760M USD in 2016), global, publicly held manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, specifically RF related products. Comba’s area of specialty, and one of our core competencies, is developing state of the art equipment based on high efficiency linear RF power amplifiers. These power amplifiers provide very stable RF performance, coupled with low operating cost, low operating temperature, and a small footprint. Comba has been providing telecommunications equipment, including equipment for in building coverage, for the cellular market for many years.

In 2016, Comba North America decided to leverage our core competency (as well as taking advantage of the low cost manufacturing cost base in China) to bring to market products for Public Safety in building coverage that was state of the art, innovative, offering more features with a superior warranty and technical support services – at more affordable price points than any of the then current manufacturers who serve this market.

Q & A with Jeff (JR) Wakabayashi, Marketing Manager (NAM) at Comba Telecom

SBC: Which problems do you focus on solving in the process of improving in-building public safety wireless communications?

J.R.: Of course, Comba solves the technical problem of providing in building coverage by providing our line of equipment that is purpose built for this environment. But in addition – we also take great pride in solving the other problems that face the in building coverage players (both the property owner, and the highly valued DAS [Distributed Antenna System] system integrators who provide the turnkey solutions).

IN BUILDING CELLULAR COVERAGE:
Over the years, the cell phone has quickly become the number one, if not the ONLY, method people use for making voice calls. And virtually everyone has experienced the problem where their cell phone does not work inside many buildings.
So – what happens when an emergency call is placed from inside a building, using a cell phone – but because of poor on non-existent cellular performance, the call does not go through? SIMPLY – if no call is received by the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point), there WON’T BE any first responders coming to the building!
Comba helps to solve this problem by providing a very cost effective solution to ensure that cell phones DO work inside buildings. Comba’s product offering supports all of the commercial cellular operators bands, and can fit buildings from very small, to very large – so no matter which operator a subscriber uses, they will have the comfort and confidence of knowing that their call to 911 went through, clearly and quickly.

IN BUILDING PUBLIC SAFETY TWO WAY RADIO COVERAGE:
The primary problem is: the property owner rarely sees the immediate ROI benefit of purchasing an ERRCS (Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System) solution, and wants to be assured that the cost is as low as possible. Comba helps with this by offering the most powerful solutions at the lowest pricing.

There are other problems as well:

  • Cost of implementation – the longer it takes the system integrator to commission and turn up the system, the higher the cost to the property owner. Comba helps with this by providing the fastest and easiest to set up solution available.
  • Product availability – in many cases, the realization or acceptance of fact that an ERRCS system is required is a last minute event – then, the system must be installed very quickly in order for the property owner to get his CO (Certificate of Occupancy). Comba helps solve that problem by being the ONLY manufacturer who offers IMMEDIATE AVAILABILITY of all its products. Comba products are instantly available from TESSCO (Comba’s distribution partner), or direct from Comba if need be.
  • Technical support – unlike a cellular system, where a malfunction that takes several days or weeks to solve is an inconvenience to the users, within the Public Safety sector, a system that is down is or can be life safety critical. So – when a problem occurs, it must be solved NOW. Comba helps solve this problem in a couple of ways:

    • First, we have a committed and highly responsive technical support staff – we can provide names of many Public Safety system integrators who will say “Comba’s support is OUTSTANDING and better than anything we could even hope for from their competitors”.
    • Secondly – in the event that we discover a bonafide (or even suspected) bad unit in the field, our technical support team will initiate that a complete replacement unit (not parts, or components, etc.) SAME DAY. And if the customer needs it, we ship OVERNIGHT. (We are proud to say that since we started shipping our BDAs in early October of 2016 we have not had a single in field hardware failure!).
  • “Future proofing” – How can the building owner be assured that the investment made today in his ERRCS system will not be obsolete tomorrow? Comba helps to alleviate this concern by making sure that our products are configured today, for services and requirements of the future.

For example:

  • Even though FirstNet Band 14 LTE deployment is in its infancy – Comba’s Public Safety products fully support this upcoming frequency band. LTE Band 14 will be used to provide reliable, high speed data capabilities to first responders – including in building usage for things such as helmet cameras, etc. Just like with cellular – if there is no in building coverage supporting LET Band 14 – there is no data and hence no functionality.
  • Currently the NFPA (National Fire Protection Authority) and IFC (International Fire Code Council) code, as well as most local jurisdiction ordinances and code, require that certain functions of the ERRCS system be monitored, and alarms sent if any of these functions fail to operate properly. The alarming is done through the use of “dry contact ports”, that are built into the hardware. Comba’s products include ADDITIONAL, currently unused, dry contact ports – so that if future alarming requirements necessitates having additional ports – Comba’s equipment will be ready to go. (All of Comba’s competitors provide only the currently required number of these ports – meaning hardware would have to be replaced.)

SBC: Why is it important for Comba and others in the industry to get involved in the public safety arena?

J.R.: We live in an increasingly dangerous world – as the more bad things get, the more we will all rely on first responders, both fire and LE, to risk their lives in order to help us. Don’t they deserve to at least have the assurance of reliable communications when they are performing their duties? There are many people NOT in the industry who do not see or understand the need for good communications within building – so the more people in the industry that get involved, the better the vision will propagate, and the more people who DO understand will grow.

And of course – there are many who ARE part of the fire or LE community, who see the need for in building coverage, but do not understand the nuts and bolts. Involvement by industry members can also go a long way in helping the people from the agencies better understand all this is involved in guaranteeing acceptable in building coverage.

SBC: What inspired Comba to join the Safer Buildings Coalition? 

J.R.: Comba views the Coalition as the best opportunity for the industry to facilitate educating and informing both property owners and personnel from the agencies, as well as in building integrators who are planning or contemplating entering the Public Safety in building market. The Coalition has a singular focus on the agenda of providing good in building communications – not mixing this with other topics and technologies related to building construction – Comba wants to be an addition to this singularly focused effort.

In addition, our Public Safety Program Manager spent a few years between the IT industry and the DAS industry serving as a police officer. He has personally experienced the agony of no radio communications during tense situations; so of course he is very much committed to seeing this problem solved – hence the desire to see Comba be part of the Coalition’s great work.

 


To learn more about Comba’s products and services, call 1-408-649-2638, email public.safety@comba-telecom.com or visit their website at www.comba.com.