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Digital superlatives

Date: 31st July 2012
Topic: Monthly Features
Issue: Issue 9
Manufacturer: Alcatel-Lucent, Cassidian, Damm, Hytera, Motorola Solutions, Sepura

IMG_9555_maktoum.jpgDubai currently seems to be cornering the world market in superlatives. Whether it’s the world’s tallest building or the largest shopping mall on the planet, this city-state seems to have a talent for pushing engineering and architecture to its limits. Judging by the buzz at this year’s TETRA and Critical Communication World Congress held in Dubai this May, some of that magic seems to have rubbed off, creating what for many was the busiest and most exciting show so far in its history.

Totting up the figures, event organizers IIR calculated that there was an overall growth in attendance of 23 per cent on last year’s show in Budapest, with almost 3000 visitors coming from 84 countries. A total of 106 exhibitors – complemented by presentations and case studies delivered by a roster of expert speakers – gave a wide range of insights into the future evolutionary path for critical communications as well as current best practice.

“We’ve had a fantastic year in TETRA”, commented a delighted Phil Kidner, chief executive of the TETRA and Critical Communications Association. “We’ve had more TETRA terminals shipped in the past year than at any time ever. There’s between two and three million terminals being used today, as we speak, around the world – which, compared to GSM, is a trivial number, but compared to any other PMR technology it’s a very significant number. And that’s something like a 9–10 per cent increase over
the previous year – and the previous year was a record year as well.”

Predicting another record-breaking year ahead, Mr Kidner added: “We’ve also seen in the last 12 months significant advances in North America. Contracts have now been awarded in both Canada and the US, so for the first time ever TETRA is available in North America.”

Growth areas

While Europe continues to account for most product shipments, the main growth in TETRA in the past year occurred elsewhere. “Europe is acting as a mature market now and often a replacement market”, observed Thomas Lynch, of the independent analysts IMS Research, at a round-table meeting organized by Motorola. “The fastest-growing market was the Middle East and Africa, with a significant growth of more than 70 per cent. And then we’re seeing Latin America: things like the World Cup driving this, and the Olympics, in Brazil. But there are other parts of Latin America that have taken up TETRA technologies.”

Shipments of terminals totalled almost half a million in 2011, he continued. “We’re projecting this to increase, and in 2016 it’s going to be over 600 000 shipments. Now, what’s significant here is that this technology is growing. Shipments of TETRA devices are growing, and the TETRA market is here to stay.” 

Building a broadband future

As always when two or more TETRA experts are gathered together, two main themes of discussions at the show revolved around the impact of broadband – and specifically the impact that the decision to use LTE will have – as well as the continuing national and international debates about spectrum availability and regulation. Many conversations at the show and its surrounding social events reflected this focus.

With a consensus now established that LTE, with PMR-oriented modifications, will be the future broadband technology for critical communications users worldwide, several exhibitors were already demonstrating LTE equipment on their stands.

“This is a technology which will be able to deliver several tens of megabits from the field to the police cars, to Metro users, to the utility people”, said Philippe Agard, of Alcatel-Lucent, which launched an LTE collaboration with Cassidian at last year’s congress. “It’s a technology which is open and flexible, it is a standard-based technology and it is all-flat IP architecture, so it’s easy to extend networks because you can converge all your infrastructure on an IP platform.”

At the 2012 congress, the two companies presented a working, end-to-end TETRA-LTE system. “This is a solution that we have jointly introduced with Cassidian to the market today, a solution which is available for the community”, M. Agard continued. “Cassidian is going to develop the terminals for this market. It’s also working on all the applications to leverage the broadband network.

“On the Alcatel side, what we provide is our LTE platform – a platform which is already well deployed... with over 20 000 eNodeBs [LTE base stations] already shipped to the market. So this is a very robust platform.”

M. Agard highlighted three features of the platform:

with data capabilities an order of magnitude faster than TEDS can provide, it can meet the broadband data needs of the public safety community; 

operating in the 380–470 MHz band (a band which many TETRA users already have access to), it will provide similar radio coverage to the voice network, avoiding the need for additional radio sites, while also allowing re-use of base station assets such as antennas;

it will provide a smooth migration path to LTE.

Alcatel-Lucent will provide the 400 MHz BTS and packet core, plus all-IP backhaul, while Cassidian is developing terminals and other network elements. “So the result is this end-to-end solution which is a world first”, M. Agard declared. “You have now LTE at 400 MHz available for PMR users.”

Easy upgrade

Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE base station equipment will be designed to fit inside Cassidian’s cabinets, making for an easy upgrade for existing TETRA users. “They can go from the same base station operating TETRA and progressively LTE without having to do a major investment”, said Jean-Marc Nasr, chief executive of communication and public safety activities for Cassidian. “So it’s exactly what we want to have.

“It’s completely integrated as a solution, from the control room to the vehicle and to the first responders in the street. There is video over LTE that will be captured from the vehicles or from the first responders and back to the control room using the LTE upstream, and also the push-to-talk over TETRA LTE will be integrated at the same time.”

“There will be progressive migration of terminals from TETRA to TETRA-plus-data-over-LTE, and then to a full LTE solution when the frequencies will be available.”

Cassidian’s first LTE-enabled terminal, demonstrated on both the Cassidian and Alcatel-Lucent stands, is a multi-bearer router for installation in vehicles such as police cars. It will support data communications via TETRA (or any other digital PMR network) as well as via private or commercial LTE networks, for maximum security and resilience. But to see the first LTE handportable suitable for operational usage, users may have to wait until 2017.

Push-to-talk over LTE

Meanwhile, the two companies have also been evangelizing their scheme to PMR users in transport, energy and in the utilities, where it could provide a solution to future ‘smart grid’ requirements. Cassidian has also been targeting defence users, because in NATO countries they already have access to the 400 MHz band.

Now Cassidian and Alcatel-Lucent are to propose their development to the TCCA’s new Critical Broadband Communications Group as a basis for its private broadband wireless solution. Nonetheless, M. Nasr warned that the transition to broadband would not happen overnight. “I believe today, having spoken to our customers”, he said, “that until 2026–27 there will be a lot of narrowband TETRA networks in the world, and so narrowband will still be the mission-critical voice solution for the next 10–15 years.

“And then we will see broadband PMR voice and data happening, we hope around the year 2020 – maybe later, depending on the country. We will have developed by this time full capacity of solutions for this activity, push-to-talk-over-LTE, and we will have developed in Cassidian all the features that you find today on TETRA, on top of the LTE layer.”

M. Nasr underlined the value of creating a standardized technology. “The push-to-talk-over-LTE, PMR over LTE, has to be standardized as a solution”, he said. “The TCCA will help us to do so. There is no point for us to deliver features and capacity which is not standardized enough for our customers to be able to benefit from an ecosystem which is sufficiently open to allow for competition and cost-effectiveness.”

But he also emphasized the importance of developing a technology specifically for private LTE networks. “Going for a commercial LTE network is possible technically, but you will never get the safety and security and resilience which you will get with our solution, which is dedicated to first responders”, he said. “We are strongly believing that data will become mission-critical – and when you have mission-critical data, you cannot rely on commercial operators and commercial networks. It’s not the same thing to serve teenagers in the streets and to serve police officers. It’s a different thing.”

In another cross-industry collaboration, Thales, well known in the defence and security markets, and Nokia Siemens Networks announced a memorandum of understanding aimed at developing a broadband LTE solution for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Through the intended agreement, Thales’ full-IP distributed architecture will provide the public safety and first responder communities with a reliable solution that will improve incident response. Nokia Siemens Networks plans to contribute its Single RAN Advanced Flexi Multiradio Base Station to support LTE access as part of the broader Thales solution. A small, high-performance, modular and energy-efficient LTE-capable base station, the Flexi Multiradio Base Station, can easily be integrated into existing sites. It also provides high-grade security functions for connectivity with a security gateway.

Continuing the co-operation theme, Siemens Communications, Media and Technology (CMT) and Damm Cellular announced an agreement aimed strengthening their positions in the field of integrated TETRA solutions. Through this partnership, Siemens CMT will be able to integrate Damm’s TetraFlex products with its own products, including command and control applications and professional communication networks.

“By partnering with Siemens CMT, we will be able to position our technology even better in important markets where we are a major player already today”, said Per Skovsund, director of systems business, Damm. “In addition, the partnership will support our penetration of new markets and definitely set a new benchmark for integrated TETRA solutions for mission-critical communication to the benefit of end users.”

Faster data with TEDS

Notwithstanding the interest in LTE and broadband technology, manufacturers are continuing to offer TEDS (TETRA Enhanced Data Service), a network enhancement which offers an immediate improvement in data speeds within existing TETRA spectrum. Among them is Selex Elsag, which was demonstrating TEDS running on its TETRA infrastructure and VS4000 mobile. By the end of this year, Selex Elsag expects to have achieved certification for mutual interoperability with Motorola and Cassidian products.

Currently the company is preparing for a TEDS pilot project in Italy with the Carabinieri, the military police, to begin around September. “We are doing it in general to enrich our product, because in all the debate about broadband, LTE and so on, we have a position that the future won’t be just LTE”, explained Francesco Pasquale, of Selex Elsag. “It will be a heterogeneous, multi-technology future – and one bit of this multi-technology future will be TEDS, in our opinion.

“We are confident, because we believe that, apart from special cases of small countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, or very, very flat countries such as the Emirates and so on, it will be probably not economically viable for big countries with mountains – like Italy, like Germany, like France – to have national LTE networks with the required coverage.

“So we see a future in which there will be – for example – LTE zones in metropolitan areas, close to airports, ports and so on, but in rural areas and all the rest of the country, less populated areas, will be TEDS. Less expensive – but better TEDS than no service, of course! It will be the compromise choice. We are confident.”

Starting grid

Cassidian, too, believes it has found an opportunity for TEDS, but not the one it first thought of. “We have been promising TEDS for the last three years, four years; TEDS is not happening”, admitted Eric Davalo, of Cassidian. But on a brighter note, he continued: “We see a key market segment that we did not identify so precisely in the past, which is the smart grid and critical infrastructure networks – mainly electricity, oil and gas.

“And we have seen in the last 18 months a significant increase in the request for TEDS from those customers, because they see in smart grids the need to have more machine-to-machine connections, to be able to secure their installations. Oil and gas is a typical example, and they are willing, I think, for TEDS. 

“Our target is to have our first real-life networks working on TEDS for this type of application before the end of this year.”

Cassidian announced that pre-interoperability testing is already underway with TEDS modems from the Korean equipment manufacturer Asia Pacific Satellite communications (APSI). This co-operation is aimed at developing TEDS technology and data-oriented products for static applications such as smart grids, supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) systems and sensor networks.

Enterprise updates

Motorola Solutions, too, showed confidence in TEDS, announcing a new generation of its Dimetra IP Micro platform – Release 3.0 – which is aimed at bringing enhanced work-team efficiency to commercial and enterprise users. With the addition of TEDS to this platform, enterprises can benefit from up to 20 times greater data capacity, plus support for a broader range of content-rich business applications, including image sending, video viewing and remote access to documents.

Among the TETRA services provided by Dimetra IP Micro are SDS, multi-slot packet data and full-duplex telephony. Release 3.0 also offers increased network security with air interface encryption and authentication options.

Another upgraded product from Motorola at the show was the second generation of its TETRA RF Automated Coverage Evaluation System (TRACES), which allows public safety network operators to collect, visualize and evaluate real-time data from TETRA networks. They can then view usage patterns and quickly identify and react to coverage black spots, thereby maintaining a stable network at all times for users in the field.

The new TRACES version builds a detailed picture of the entire mission-critical network by automatically and continuously capturing network performance data from actual user devices and base stations and monitors their compliance against typical KPI and SLA criteria.

LTE, the ultimate choice

Meanwhile, a survey by IMS Research has found that many PMR data users would like to have their own private LTE networks, but are expecting to rely on the public cellular operators until such networks became available.

“We took the long-term view based on that information and we did a ten-year forecast”, said Thomas Lynch, of IMS. “It will be about 2018 before we start to see any scalable numbers of private LTE users. We see about one million or so worldwide by about 2018. And then actually we see some quite significant growth, not necessarily usual for the PMR market, but up to about three million users by 2021.

“We did take into account some issues – regulation, spectrum, budgets. But these are the figures that we’ve got based on the information that we’ve had. So ultimately public safety markets will increasingly be using LTE in the future.”

In the conference hall

During this year’s congress, a record 156 speakers were welcomed to the conference platform. Presentations and panel sessions ranged from mission-critical to business-critical topics but all focused on this year’s theme – critical communications for an evolving world.

Over three days, including multi-track afternoon sessions, they examined subject areas from business models and investment, network deployment, development and control room strategy to the future evolution of TETRA and opportunities such as ‘smart grids’ for the energy industry. Special features were a session devoted to TETRA applications and a Middle Eastern Showcase.

Jeppe Jepsen, a board member of the TETRA + Critical Communications Association (TCCA), opened the proceedings, and in a keynote opening address Rolf Sjoberg from the United Nations outlined the vital role mission-critical technologies have played during the emergencies in Somalia and Haiti. 

Rashid al Khayat, of Nedaa, network operator in the United Arab Emirates, provided an overview of the TETRA scene in the host country. Then Tor-Helge Lyngstøl, of Norway’s Directorate for Emergency Communication, evaluated the performance of the TETRA network and the lessons learnt from last year’s shootings in the Oslo area. And Sam Simpson, of London’s Metropolitan Police, explored plans for security at the soon-to-begin Olympic Games. 

These early presentations offered a delegates an idea of the full scope of TETRA before more specific topics were explored as the conference developed. 

Critical broadband

One of the more eagerly awaited sessions was devoted to critical broadband communications. Sebastien Sabatier from Thales highlighted some of the issues facing Europe in moving towards an LTE deployment. To show the challenges faced in other parts of the world, he cited the American model. “In the US, in less than one year they have chosen the technology, they have given the frequency band, and they have allocated the budget”, he said; “whereas in Europe, this will maybe take 10 years.”

In a call to arms for Europeans, he urged: “All users should push their governments to move and to make the right choice – first with regards to frequency band and secondly to adopt broadband PMR technology such as LTE.”

In a lively panel discussion which followed, speakers looked at the mobile broadband demands of critical communications users. Sietse Hitman, from the Dutch police, described how they were currently using 3G networks to send data. “We’ve issued over 10 000 BlackBerrys to all police officers on the street so they can do police-specific enquiries 24/7 and send videos”, he said. “At the same time I can look up on Twitter what’s going on in my area.”

Kari Junttila, a senior research specialist, compared this to the situation in Finland, saying: “On the emergency services side we use almost 100 per cent SDS [short data service over TETRA].”

‘Change is happening quicker’

But a straw poll of the audience revealed only nine delegates who were currently using data over TETRA.

Mr Hitman continued: “Technology at the moment gives us a lot of new opportunities and those opportunities are not in the TETRA market. As a police force, we have an obligation to keep up with this development in our society. We have to use the same technology as our citizens.”

Geoff McCormick, a director of consultancy firm The Alloy, added: “An incredible amount of change is taking place in the real world and that change is happening quicker and has more impact than ever before. You [TETRA users] will be left behind in the dust if you do not adopt these behaviours.”

Putting the case for TETRA, Tony Gray, chairman of the Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG), countered: “In the case of the Netherlands police, I truly hope that they are not sending mission-critical data over commercial networks. My question arising from that would be: ‘What happens when those networks are not available?’ ”

“In the next five years we’ll end up with this kind of information being processed in real-time intelligence centres and being sent out to the officers on the street”, Mr Hitman replied. “It will give us the information to act properly. We don’t want to send an overload of information to the officers on the street, but we need the Internet and we need mobile broadband. We won’t stop because there is not yet a mission-critical broadband network in the Netherlands, because then we lose track of our society.”

Concluding, Mr Gray surveyed the road ahead. “Our whole role in the CCBG is to find you the mechanism to safely, securely, and reliably send and receive information to the user on the street”, he said. “We are going to leverage commercial technology but we are going to make sure that that commercial technology is set up in the right way and standardized in the right way to serve your needs, and delivered in the form of a network that is rugged, reliable, resilient and secure in the way that we need it to be.”

Digital migration

The conference also included a wide range of case studies from bodies which have recently installed TETRA systems. 

Alexi Tomachesky from T Helper, a Russian systems integrator, described the extreme conditions technicians had to contend with when installing the longest TETRA network in the world, to serve a 5500 km oil pipeline in Siberia.

“In the summer time we have a lot of rain and swamps”, he reported. “In the wintertime it is very cold with a lot of snow. The temperature difference throughout the year is very big: from –55° to +45°.”

Sanjay Sahay from the Bangalore police gave an illuminating assessment of the expansion of TETRA networks for police in India and the financial and technical constraints they are under. “The police have a problem with internal technical expertise, so they expect the system integrator to run the system for them for quite a time”, he said, adding: “The police are very worried about their level of technical competence.

“It is very clear they need TETRA. They want the coverage; they want the quality of service and connection to the legacy system. The TETRA terminal is quite expensive to give to 80 000 constables in the Maharashtra province, for example. The number of constables is huge and they cannot afford to give to each one, so they need to have interoperability with the legacy system.”

Among other topics was a focus on TETRA in the Middle East, where it is seeing huge growth, especially in the oil and gas sector.

Radio applications

Applications were also a hot topic across the three days. Hannu Aronsson, chairman of the applications working group for the TCCA, reviewed the current situation and looked ahead to what will be possible in the future.

“If you look at the users of TETRA, they have all kinds of different needs, so the applications for different users are always slightly different to match the operations of that industry or public safety organization”, he said.

“What we are trying to do at the TCCA is try to help people utilize the different features of TETRA and use them as effectively as possible to really get the data benefits out of TETRA.”

The second morning ended with a panel discussion where Christo Kriek, programme manager at Sasol Shared Services, which runs a TETRA network at a large synthetic fuels refinery in South Africa, described how he was employing data applications.

“We are currently using a lot of telemetry at all our 16 base stations where we are monitoring the electricity used and the temperatures inside, as this has maintenance implications to our equipment”, he explained “That is working perfectly with the SDS. SDS is a very efficient transfer of data so we prefer to use that.”

He confirmed that TETRA was providing sufficient bandwidth for these requirements. “We are currently working on two more pilots that will probably also use SDS because of this efficiency.”

Working together

Summing up, Hannu Aronsson returned to a common theme of the conference – the future data demands of the TETRA community. “If you look at the activities of the TCCA Broadband Group, they are talking with P25 people, with DMR people, with LTE people, because we see that the important thing is to serve this community of users”, he said. “We see there is a real need for broadband services and so we are trying to make it happen in a way that these broadband services are suitable for mission-critical users. There is a lot of co-operation. 

“A few years ago people thought TETRA was fighting P25 and so on. There is competition, which is good for everybody – but with this broadband initiative, everyone is working together.”

Control room strategies

The final session of the conference began with a return to last year’s summer riots in the UK, with Martin Benke, director of UK network services at TETRA network operator Airwave Solutions. During this episode, traffic on the network effectively doubled overnight and it remained at an elevated level throughout the week, even after law and order had been restored.

“We had a march from the English Defence League, a right-wing organization, which met the Union Against Fascism in east London”, Mr Benke said. “Fortunately, law and order was maintained, but there were a lot of police there. In fact, we had our busiest time ever on a single site – we had almost 2300 officers attached to a single base station.”

Asked by a delegate what lessons were learnt from the experience, Mr Benke continued: “ You can look at the network, you can look at the statistics, you can look at the performance and it all looks green and rosy. But you can speak to the officer on the street and he might have a different perception.

“The more we can do to explain to people on the street how they can get the best out of the Airwave service, the better chance they have of getting a great customer experience.

“For example, we have the Olympics coming up, which will be exactly the same as the riots, with officers coming from across the country to support the Met [London’s Metropolitan Police]. They’re all coming in to three feeding stations.

“What we’re doing, with support from Motorola, is having staff at those centres to make sure those officers understand exactly how to get the most from the radio.”

Staying in control

A closing panel discussion, chaired by Peter Prater from Frequentis, looked at the future of control rooms and brought back to the stage Peter Goulding and Geoff McCormick along with Kari Junttila.

Mr McCormick began with his vision of future crowd control at a football match. “Imagine a future where every single ticket emits a signal so you know where all the tickets are”, he said. “Imagine if you combine that with the local pubs to see where the most beer is being sold. Imagine if you can integrate new forms of data so you can predict things much more accurately.”

Mr Junttila outlined practice in Finland where incidents are always controlled out in the field. This led to the final question of the day: will we need fixed control rooms in the future?

“The idea that when you call 999 and you’ll be speaking to a human in the future, I don’t think is a given”, Mr McCormick commented. “There will be automatic call-forwarding based on tonality of voice, a speech recognition type of activity. We are living in exponential times and there’s massive change afoot.”

But Mr Goulding was sceptical. He gave the example of the Metropolitan Police, which has 10 000 incidents coming into the control room on any given Saturday.

Summing up, Mr Prater said: “We are in the process of ripping up the rule book and starting again. I put it to you that at next years event in Paris you might start hearing more news on these mobile control facilities.”

Business move

In terms of business developments at the show, Sepura’s acquisition of 3T Communications, the Austrian manufacturer of TETRA infrastructure, highlighted a significant shift in strategy for a company hitherto associated with handsets and applications. 3T Communications’ speciality has been in small to mid-size TETRA systems predominantly for customers in the commercial sector and Sepura sees this business segment growing strongly as the worldwide TETRA market develops beyond its public safety origins to include sectors such as the chemical industries, oil and gas and utilities.

Sepura also used the congress to celebrate the delivery of its one-millionth radio, in a geographically appropriate context – an STP8000 for its customer the Qatar Ministry of Interior. Gordon Watling, chief executive of Sepura said: “We delivered our 500 000th radio in 2008 and it’s a remarkable milestone, given the considerably shorter time it’s taken for us to deliver the second 500 000th radio, demonstrating our impressive levels of growth”.

New for the show from Sepura was the STP9000 range, a family of three handportables which combines ‘tough’ technologies developed for the company’s recent ATEX radio with a new, intuitive user interface (there is a ‘compatibility mode’ for existing Sepura users). It also has some ‘smart’ extras such as haptic (touch) feedback to help users wearing gloves, and a built-in RFID tag for applications such as tracking individual radios in a fleet. The STP9000 is submersible, but Sepura adds that it has been tested well beyond its IP67 rating and can survive for an hour under two metres of water. The connectors are protected even against salt water.

“We’ve given the new range a new look to match”, says product manager Mark Barnby, cataloguing a long list of new and improved features, “and we’ve made sure that the new range can use all their existing accessories from the STP series. Their chargers, their batteries, their audio accessories from the existing 8000 can be worked and used on the 9000 series.”

Furthermore, a new GPS chip gives the STP9000 better sensitivity, so that it can cling on to very weak signals and can be tracked more reliably – an important factor for the users’s safety. “We’ve created something which we call predictive ephemeris”, Mr Barnby continues. “You need ephemeris to start tracking – that’s usually the big delay when you switch on your satnav in your car. It’s trying to download the ephemeris and that takes time. With this product, if you can’t see enough of the sky to download the ephemeris, and it’s got an ephemeris within 48 hours old, it does a prediction from that. And what that means is it’s more likely to start up quickly and track quickly, even in some in-building environments.

“We’ve added new safety features, so if the user has a product which is switched off and an emergency happens, he no longer has to switch it on before he can initiate an emergency. He can simply press and hold the emergency button and it will power up and send the emergency call.”

Sepura also announced STProtect, an innovative indoor tracking and location solution primarily targeted at lone worker safety and protection across a wide range of sectors and interworking with its STP8000 and STP9000 series handportable radios.

Pocket performance

Extending the functionality and form range of TETRA equipment was a focus too for Cassidian at the show. It launched a new slimline radio, the TH1n – at just 19 mm thick, the first in a new class of pocket-sized TETRA radios. It is designed to open up the TETRA market to new sectors, such as social workers and healthcare personnel who have the option of joining shared public safety networks but so far have not found a radio model to suit their needs.

“There’s a lot of agencies within government that like to be connected to these networks but don’t want to use heavy, big terminals that are meant for first responder use”, explained Eric Davalo chief technical officer for secure communication solutions at Cassidian. “And this is why we are going to target a very large market of people that really embraces the new technology.”

The radio’s IP65 protection provides reliable performance in demanding environments and its 1·8 watt output power delivers extra reach when network coverage is at its limit or when Direct Mode Operation (DMO) is used. Equipped with appropriate accessories, TH1n is also suitable for covert use.

First customers to have confirmed orders for the TH1n are the Virve network in Finland, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and Atlas Telecom of the United Arab Emirates. Deliveries will begin at the end of this year.

On the infrastructure side, Cassidian unveiled its DXT3c TETRA switch, as small as the compact TB3 base station and one-third the size and less than half the weight of the company’s DXT3 switch. In addition to providing a full set of TETRA features, it includes all the functions of a packet data gateway, base station controller and dispatcher controller as well as multiple application connections. The DXT3c can support more than 900 active talk groups when the average offered group traffic is 0·2 erlang.

Its IP capability supports a ‘push-to-talk over LTE’ function, demonstrated by Cassidian at the show. This allows LTE subscribers to participate in a TETRA group call via push-to-talk, provided that they have the necessary call rights.

Continuing the LTE focus, Cassidian also launched its TB3s TETRA base station, which can be fitted with broadband LTE carriers. It combines all the usual TB3 features, from TEDS to air-interface encryption and from Type 1 Handover to base station fallback. Combining TETRA and LTE capabilities in one unit means that upgrading the network for TEDS and introducing broadband can be achieved with incremental investment.

The TB3s is aimed at helping network owners and operators save money, since the combined TETRA and LTE units can share antenna lines and antennas. In addition, they can use the same transmission lines to the core network and the same battery backup system. The TB3s can be operated and maintained over a remote connection.

Next year’s congress

With the next event now planned for Paris next year, May 20–23 – and renamed ‘Critical Communications World, incorporating TETRA World Congress’ – temperatures outside the exhibition hall may be much cooler than they were in Dubai, where even the locals were complaining about the 41°C heat. For the industry, however, given the general speeding up of its metabolism driven by broadband, increasing clarity on spectrum issues and cross-industry collaboration, mission-critical solutions are certain to remain a hot topic for the foreseeable future.

Further stories from TETRA world Congress

Adapting LTE for critical users

Resort chooses private TETRA

 

 

 

 

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