TETRA networks: the key to critical communications

10 Oct 2022

TETRA radio communication networks provided several improvements over the initial era of wireless communications when it was analog. TETRA networks are not only for voice communication, but narrowband data transmission, and group communication capabilities.

Radio communication has not only been of immense relevance and utility to mankind since its origin, but its significance continues to grow as the boom of 21st-century technical innovation continues. Two-way radio communication protects public safety in a variety of situations, including fire and police department dispatches and aircraft communication.

What is TETRA?

TETRA stands for TErrestrial Trunked RAdio. TETRA, as a universal standard for digital trunked radio transmission, is different from others by exceptional audio quality and secure communication.

ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) collaborated with key manufacturers, operators, and user groups to develop this standard in early 90’s. Secure data and voice transfer, superior functionality, and a diverse set of performance characteristics ensure the versatility required to satisfy the demanding needs of mission-critical organizations. TETRA meets the mobile radio demands of public security and safety, transport, oil and gas, utilities, public entities, and other industries.

Although massive public safety programs fuelled TETRA’s early development, demand from other industries has expanded dramatically in the past decade, with TETRA becoming one of the most popular data and voice communications technologies within mission-critical services.

Why and who uses TETRA radio communications?

TETRA’s efficacy, dependability, and security, together with its wide variety of uses, have made it the preferred mode of communication for several enterprises and organizations. They provide safe and dependable communication in any business. They are in the public and private sectors by organizations that require communication dependability, capacity, and safety.

TETRA is the most popular digital PMR (Private Mobile Radio) standard around the world, with over 130 nations using it. The user base ranges from national public safety organizations and utility corporations to industrial plant installations with only one or two base stations. TETRA technology is particularly useful for public protection, transport, healthcare, and medical teams, corporations, and a variety of sectors. They must all communicate inside and between teams, and these solutions must be mission-critical: accessible, dependable, and secure.

Benefits of TETRA networks

TETRA offers the reduction of the number of antennas and when the antennas fail the possibility of communicating immediately between mobiles by using “direct mode”.

The TETRA standard fulfils the demands of a wide range of conventional PMR user organizations. This means that it has a scalable design that enables cost-effective network deployments ranging from a single station localized area coverage to multi-site broad area national coverage.

Coverage 

TETRA offers local, regional or national coverage. Coverage is mostly determined by the frequency and transmission power employed. The sensitivity of the receiver is also significant. Because TETRA is an open standard, competitive suppliers have consistently added innovation to its evolution, such that today, utilizing the same frequency band with identical output power, TETRA coverage is exceptional.

In addition, TETRA enables provide service in remote areas, allowing direct communication between terminals even with the network out of service. There is a wide range of terminals to offer the end user a variety of services.

Reliability

TETRA is ideal for important data applications that require maximum reliability. Telemetry often generates many transactions of only just a few bytes from various sources. The automated measurement and wireless transfer of information from remote sources are known as telemetry.

TETRA provides sophisticated Short Data Service (SDS) communications. These messages can be provided via the control channel, during a speech, or via separate data channels. For high-volume transactions, the TETRA IP Packet Data service is the best option.

Fail-safe

TETRA allows the coordination of security forces and emergency systems (ambulances, firefighters, etc.) without the need to use mobile phone networks, which can easily become saturated in the event of a catastrophe or unexpected outage. Thanks to TETRA, the intervention of critical services is fast and efficient since they do not depend on the commercial mobile operator network. This independence is key, as it provides greater availability and security.

Security

TETRA offers end-to-end encryption and authentication systems. However, TETRA security entails much more than just end-to-end encryption. The process starts with mutual authentication, in which both the radio and the TETRA network validate each other. Then there are many air interface encryption technologies for encrypting all communication, including speech, signalling, and data. 

Other advantages:

  • Independent infrastructure, being separated from networks of mobile network operators.
  • Cost reduction since the rates and prices used by mobile operators are not applicable.
  • Higher control by customising system settings according to each organization needs.
  • High quality communications in the transmission of voice and data.
  • Data availability.

The Challenges of Managing and Operating TETRA Networks

Management of networks composed of technologies and equipment installed decades ago.

Public networks are often made up of equipment that has been in place for decades. Many of the installed equipment still use Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy (PDH) and Synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) protocols.

Many organizations face the challenge of managing new and old network equipment. Usually this means having many different systems and higher costs, leading to a lot of noise in the data, not having 100% control of the entire infrastructure, problems of inefficiency when detecting failures, etc.

Circuit provisioning

Circuits are created on a daily basis within a public network, changes are applied, and new equipment is added. However, there are still many organizations in the world that continue tracing circuits manually, becoming an inefficient, time-consumption and unsafe process. The lack of Network Management System can lead network operators to invest many hours or even days building circuits in order to manage properly the network traffic.

Fault management

TETRA networks are critical and large by nature. Network fault management is essential for public networks. An undetected failure or its late detection can affect the entire country, compromising the security and even producing some disastrous event! Hence, fault management operations are core activities for TETRA network operators.

The network monitoring system is key, but also it is outmost importance to figure out another aspects, such as:

  • Receive alarms and implement a proper classification
  • Set up an effective and instant notification system
  • Analysis of alarms and root cause
  • Visualization of the network and the location of faults detected

Our role and activities

SGRwin is used in one of the largest TETRA networks in the world. Furthermore, we are a network management solution used by critical mission services worldwide. These include emergency services, civil protection, public security, emergency medical services  and more.

SGRwin is an essential solution to solve common TETRA network management problems such as:

  • Management of PDH/SDH protocols
  • Management of legacy equipment whose manufacturer management systems will replace or discontinue
  • Manually provisioning circuits
  • Management of any faults that may occur

Our product provides a central point of management for your needs. Moreover, reduction of time and operational expenses, faster circuit provisioning, reduction of errors, and improvements in the management of alarms and network events are more benefits you can gain from us. Contact us today!

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