Using TETRA to generate more than just voice

By Phil Kidner, CEO, TETRA & Critical Communications Association
Wednesday, 07 November, 2012

The Australian TETRA Forum and the TETRA and Critical Communications Association (TCCA) held a TETRA tour in Australia, a series of one-day exhibitions and seminars that attracted full houses in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.

Each location hosted representatives from the increasing number of industry sectors relying on professional mobile radio (PMR) who came to hear more about the benefits TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) critical communications technology can offer users in Australia.

Key messages included information on the spectral efficiency of TETRA which provides four timeslots per 25 kHz carrier, an outline of comprehensive interoperability programs and the resulting extensive feature set, all of which come together for the benefit of users.

However, perhaps the information that caught the immediate attention of the delegates was the versatility of possible business models. Each organisation can find a way to use TETRA to generate revenue, instead of considering it as a cost factor. Organisations with a private TETRA network can choose to offer service to others and help to cover their operational expenditure with the income, or become a user of a service provider and save capital expenditure. An organisation might co-own a TETRA network with full control of an individual region or perhaps choose one of the many other possible combinations.

Regardless of the business model one is common to all use - TETRA is way beyond voice. It provides the growth path from voice-centric communication to information-centric communication integrating radio communications to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and fleet management and other systems. This is a very important aspect considering that a new radio system rolled out recently needs to be able to accommodate the operational requirements from 2025 and beyond.

TETRA is in use in over 126 countries, with networks ranging from single-site, single-user organisations to national shared networks of thousands of base stations with hundreds of thousands of radios. TETRA continues its expansion in commercial sectors, consistently delivering the levels of performance required by an increasing number of market sectors looking for robust and reliable critical communications.

These sectors include air, rail, road and water transport, utilities, mining; the oil and gas exploration, extraction and delivery industries; as well as commercial, manufacturing, retail and leisure organisations. In oil and gas in particular, the availability of intrinsically safe ATEX radios, which can be used in potentially explosive environments, has increased investment in TETRA.

The Australian TETRA Tour presentations can be found on the website.

The next major event to profile the possibilities offered by TETRA and its many supporting vendors is in December at RadioComms Connect 2012 in Melbourne.

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