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LTE vs TETRA - where next for PMR radio?


By Jurgen Wittkopp  and Fabio Tignanelli, PA wireless technology experts

Defining the way forward for future PMR radio systems - could combining the unique attributes of TETRA with the benefits of LTE mobile broadband be the answer?

TETRA - a purpose-built technology that lacks broadband capabilities

TETRA is currently essential to ensure secure, critical emergency services in our everyday life. A roadmap has been defined to enhance TETRA to provide more responsive voice services combined with enhanced data services.

But will this be sufficient to support the ever-increasing requirements of users?

Today, in many ways ordinary consumers have more advanced mobile services at their fingertips than TETRA / TETRA Enhanced Data Service (TEDS) will ever be able to deliver. The difference is set to become even more pronounced with the imminent worldwide rollout of the 4G LTE mobile broadband system.

In contrast to LTE, TETRA is fundamentally a voice-oriented technology relying on private networks. TEDS is an evolution towards data services, providing transmission speeds of 30-240kbps. But it cannot achieve even the minimum throughput required to support rich data and streaming applications at the heart of video services.

LTE is leaving TETRA behind

Users of traditional PMR radio services require more. Whether you operate a network for public, private or defence purposes, the demand for broadband solutions has risen exponentially with the proliferation of high speed commercial networks.

Location-based video services such as augmented reality, real-time video intelligence used in image-based pattern recognition and applications to upload video evidence are only a few examples of applications that would equip first responders more suitably. TETRA and TEDS will not be able to support most such requirements.

Can LTE offer the enhanced capabilities first responders need?

So can TETRA network users turn to LTE and benefit from the huge step up in performance it provides?

Some question whether commercial technologies such as LTE are adequate for networks where security and reliability are critical. But with the extent of the performance benefits that LTE offers and the fact that LTE is continuously evolving to address an ever-wider range of user requirements, TETRA users cannot afford to ignore LTE. With proper planning it will be possible for TETRA users to take advantage of LTE for mobile broadband. We believe LTE can form a valuable alternative or complement to a rapidly ageing TETRA technology.

PA has a wealth of TETRA and LTE experience:

TETRA handset manufacturer - TETRA device development

We helped a TETRA handset manufacturer meet the complex integration of TETRA components and systems by setting up and operating a programme for the rapid development of robust solutions. 

LTE test system for Catapult

PA worked with Catapult to devise the most effective solution for a LTE
PHY layer, including fast-tracked development, high throughput,
flexibility, performance and interface upgrades for this LTE test system. 

TETRA Network rollout/application design for Airwave O2

Through a series of related projects PA helped Airwave O2, the UK’s
national TETRA operator, to procure and roll out the network, then
proceed with the design of application of use cases and their subsequent prototyping for end users.

Commercial PMR radio service for North America operator

For the premier supplier of alternative PMR-like services, PA was engaged in a range of different assignments spanning technology vetting, process and infrastructure streamlining and app design.

TETRA and LTE clients also use PA for solution design, fast-tracked product definition and development, procurement, delivery assurance, risk mitigation, security issues and a range of other specialist areas that require an in-depth knowledge of the involved technologies and systems.

Whether you are operating in a public, private or defence environment, PA can draw upon a wide pool of expertise and resources that help you solve your problems.

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