TETRA Radio Evolution Archive

TETRA Radio Evolution Path to 4G LTE

TETRA Radio evolution to 4G LTE is essential in order to enhance the mission critical emergency communication services. A framework for smooth transition of TETRA RADIO to LTE is shown below.

tetra radio evolution to LTE

For smooth transition of TETRA Radio to LTE, initially the critical voice and data messages will run in the narrowband TETRA network, while the high speed non-critical yet secured data will run in the commercial LTE broadband network. A technical architecture of TETRA Radio smooth transition to LTE is shown below:

TETRA Radio Evolution to TETRA 3 Broadband TETRA

Most recently, TETRA standardization bodies have identified user requirements for broadband mission critical data applications which include transfer of multimedia video and photo transfer, location data,  office applications, upload and download of operational information and online database enquiries. As a result, ETSI TC TETRA has initiated a new work item to expand the TETRA standard for transfer of broadband packet data which is scheduled until the end of 2016. Even the whole TETRA industry is extremely uncertain in the moment whether TETRA is already a legacy technology and will shortly be replaced by mission critical LTE.

tetra radio evolution training

UK & USA plan to replace TETRA with LTE until 2016 for Critical Communications & Public Safety

Within the next three years, LTE could replace the TETRA system that currently provides mission-critical communications for public-safety agencies and other government organizations in Great Britain, an official said yesterday.

Since 2005, mission-critical communications have been transmitted over the Airwave system—a privately owned TETRA network that covers 99% of the land mass and 98% of the population in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). It serves “all three emergency services and other national users” that pay subscriptions fees, according to Gordon Shipley of the United Kingdom Home Office. Although the performance of the TETRA system is “very good,” it is “extremely expensive” for users, particularly when compared to the plummeting per-minute costs of commercial wireless air time, he said.

In addition, the contracts associated with the Airwave system are scheduled to expire from 2016 to 2020, so the UK Home Office is looking for alternatives, Shipley said.

“Because [the Airwave network is] a TETRA-based system, it’s narrowband data,” Shipley said during the session. “One of the things which has become clear is that the emergency services are now increasingly going broadband services, which can provide even higher speeds. And we need to provide a better, more reliable and secure service for broadband, as well as narrowband voice. So, my program’s responsibility is to find a replacement for critical voice, as well broadband data services, and to do so cost effectively.

“We think, in the UK, that 4G LTE promises significant benefits over the current service that we buy.”

UK officials will conduct a supplier conference next month to get input on the notion of having a public-safety LTE system operational in December 2016, with the entire system transitioned to the 4G technology by 2020, Shipley said.

This development could have an impact in the United States, which is trying to get 3GPP—the global standards body for LTE—to include public-safety requirements such as mission-critical voice in future revisions of LTE that can be implemented in the nationwide broadband network being built by FirstNet, according to Andrew Thiessen, who helps lead the standards effort for Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR), a unit of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

“I think it’s imperative that everyone in the audience understand that the United States isn’t the only country that’s actually looking forward to LTE,” Thiessen said during the session. “In many ways, the United Kingdom is actually working faster than FirstNet, looking at a 2016 date for mission-critical voice.”

Of course, one of the key requirements for public safety is mission-critical, push-to-talk voice. A draft set of requirements for push-to-talk over LTE has been distributed to officials in other countries, and the initial response has been positive, Thiessen said.

“We’re actually getting pretty close,” he said. “The comments that we’re getting back are more about clarification of what a particular sentence meant and less so about, ‘Well, we view things very differently.’ Public safety operates fairly similar globally, so push to talk is push to talk, whether it’s TETRA or P25 or whether it’s the United Kingdom or the United States—the expectations of the user community are very similar.”

Towards Next Generation Public Safety Network Technologies

Modern and emerging digital technologies are reshaping user expectations, and bringing many key advantages such as clear audio, greater coverage, sufficient utilization of the allocated spectrum, and extended battery life, and many other. The data capabilities as well as data capabilities are worth mentioning as the greatest benefits of broad band TETRA radio network

For instances, application such as SCADA solutions, GPS location, text messages, telemetry services, radio programming and improved safety further extends Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) two-way radios beyond voice communications. A unified operation of narrowband TETRA with cellular technology such as LTE is illustrated in the figure below.


Digital uninterrupted nature of DMR makes possible the addition of data applications on top of radio systems and devices.. Since the DMR standard supports packet switching over the air, enabling an effortless development of standard applications. In this digital era, everyone around the globe is entirely dependent upon communication both on data and voice. Therefore, this facility to include variety of data applications to the system is seen as a potential solution for mission critical communication. In this article, we have summarized the five advantages of combining data and voice under DMR.

Spectrum Efficiency in DMR Networks

The most important feature of DMR which is both operators and the regulators enjoy is the existing 12.5 KHz spectrum can be re-used to carry two TDMA timeslots simultaneously. As a result, the spectrum efficiency of DMR systems is improved significantly by a factor of two as compared to the analog systems. DMR optimizes the use of limited bandwidth and lets the reuse of existing spectrum providing an uninterrupted digital communication. Moreover, expanded communication bandwidth which enables digital audio quality and higher calling capacity.

Future TETRA Radio and DMR Systems Throughput

In DMR systems, the spectrum is divided into two TDMA timeslots. Specifically, in the first time slot when voice is utilizing, the second time slot can be used to transmit application data like text message or location data simultaneously together with the ongoing call. It is effective in applications such as public safety dispatch systems which provide verbal as well as visual transmit instructions. With the rise of Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Big Data, enhanced data capability of communication networks has become very important. The future plan for two-slot TDMA applications in DMR is to provides ability for temporarily merging of the both slots to the data rate to 9.6 Kbps. An illustration of state-of-the-art mission critical services over broadband networks is shown in figure below.


Improved Responsiveness for Public Safety Networks using DMR systems

 A combination of voice and data in one device gives field and mobile users with every bit of information that they might need.

The facility of combined voice and data in a single device provides field and mobile workers with all the transformation that are needed for efficient react and respond to any condition.

DMR supports multiple call types, including group system, system emergency, announcement and unit-to-unit calls, and data messaging, including status, short and authenticated registration, making certain that consumers communicate in a wide range of different ways.

This enhances the productivity and safety standards of the workers who operate in remote environments.

Secure Emergency Communication Services using DMR systems

DMR infrastructure puts a great emphasis on security. DMR Tier III ensures privacy in communication by providing security features of data and voice communication. High level of standard supports are used for access control for devices, encryption techniques, full sorting of traffic, user authentication and network access. With the introduction of trunked call handling in DMR, prying is not possible.

Next Generation Scalable Public Safety Networks

Digital Mobile Radio communication provides a good way to increase workforce efficiency and obtain maximum operational benefits for mission critical users. We need a digital radio platform which can help to reduce the network outages and improve power communication while guaranteeing that your assets and staffs are protected and performing optimally.  The Organizations are now realizing the benefits of bringing voice and data together over DMR network which can be delivered to the whole grid. In essence, DMR Tier III is the right platform to build a fully connected and secure enterprise with enhanced voice and data services, along with location services and vehicle telemetry communications.

We have designed a comprehensive course regarding DMR and TETRA Radio network planning and design for public safety networks. You can join our TETRA Network Evolution to LTE Broadband for Public Safety Communication Certification Courses here.