TETRA's Next Twenty Years

Part 4 in a series of reflections in the lead-up to Critical Communications World 2018

Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) emerged as a broadly adopted European standard that sought to harmonize professional mobile radio (PMR) technology with interoperable standards-based implementations. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Critical Communications World began as a TETRA-focused event. While this anniversary year will draw attention to LTE-based mobile broadband approaches, TETRA remains a cornerstone topic. And as the marquee TETRA event for the year, Critical Communications World stands as the ideal venue for taking stock of advancements occurring across the TETRA ecosystem.

Though equipment suppliers tend to hold significant announcements until the doors at Critical Communications World open, the last several months have already shown us that the TETRA ecosystem does not stand still. In the Fall of 2017, Motorola Solutions highlighted its Responder Alert technology that leverages mission-critical radio technology to automate actions and notifications when police officers take actions with guns or body cameras. Both Airbus SLC and Hytera expanded on the benefits offered by their hybrid TETRA/Smartphone devices. It is fair to expect that some of these companies will take the Berlin event as an opportunity to launch the "next great thing". Perhaps the most significant question: will Motorola Solutions match Airbus and Hytera's embrace of the hybrid TETRA/LTE device?

Smaller TETRA specialists will also use Critical Communications World as a platform for launching new initiatives. In contrast to large-scale suppliers, these specialists can find it easier to bring fresh approaches to old problems. ETELM, as a case in point, is re-thinking how TETRA access can combine with LTE core networks. And Danish TETRA supplier DAMM has fielded its Multi-Tech Platform that blends support for TETRA, TEDS, DMR and Analog to serve demanding enterprises such as transportation networks. Other interesting innovators appearing at Critical Communications World include Rohill with its TetraNode softswitch technology based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and Funk Electronic Piciorgros with its new line of TETRA data modems.

Suppliers, of course, are not the only presenters at Critical Communications World. The program line-up provides ample opportunity to hear from ministry officials who are responsible for some of the most extensive TETRA deployments in service today. Most notably, the German Federal Agency for Public Safety Digital Radio (BDBOS) is hosting the BDBOS Tactical Day as part of the Critical Communications World Masterclass Program on May 15. The BDBOS program includes a look at TETRA operations in support of recent major large-scale events in Austria, Germany and Norway. Officials from Austria's Ministry of Interior, Norway's Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) and Germany's BDBOS will deliver the operational perspective. Also, BDOS will share its experience coping with capacity management, real-time monitoring and subscriber management issues as the agency supports its massive national network.

Critical Communications World may have evolved beyond its TETRA roots, but the technology that launched this event 20 years ago remains relevant today. The 2018 Berlin conference and exhibition will go a long ways towards bringing a vision for the next twenty years into focus.