The TETRA standard has always provided for the transmission of data as well as voice.   The use of status messaging and Short Data Service (SDS) provide very efficient methods for quickly sharing information with little impact on voice traffic or IP data.  Many SDS applications have been developed specifically to increase operational efficiency.  As some organisations and agencies also use mobile data services and applications on public carriers, TETRA is well positioned to offer a complementary or alternative bearer that is far more resilient and secure.

Key to the success of implementing an effective mobile data capability is to start with a realistic expectation of the data speeds, and a willingness to adapt operational procedures to take full advantage of the data. The objectives should be to generate good decisions and outcomes.  TETRA data speeds are modest when compared to 3G or LTE/4G but are more than capable of carrying many of the applications vital to public safety and industrial needs.  Well engineered applications which minimise the transmitted data and manage the information efficiently at either end have been shown to be very effective over TETRA.  These include database look-up, picture messaging, and location-based services.

TETRA data speeds continue to evolve and have long since increased with the provision of Multi-Slot Packet Data (MSPD), providing speeds similar to GPRS.   TETRA Enhanced Data Service (TEDS) brings EDGE-like speeds to TETRA.  TEDS better manages data traffic in busy TETRA networks and maintains high availability for voice. In addition TEDS enables richer data applications such as video, image and mapping services.

The deployment of public mobile broadband services will stimulate the demand for similar high speed data services from the critical communications user community. However, it is essential that these users continue to benefit from the resilience, functionality and coverage already delivered by TETRA voice networks. TETRA and TEDS deliver low and medium speed data capability that meet these criteria and enable many of the data services through the use of efficient applications. For true mission critical mobile broadband, new technologies will be needed. TCCA established the Critical Communications Broadband Group, a Working Group that is dedicated to driving the development of suitable technologies.

Such solutions will roll out over the next few years as spectrum becomes available.  However we expect TETRA to remain the primary technology for mission critical and business critical users for many years into the future, because of the challenges in providing true mission critical voice over broadband with the levels of resilience provided by TETRA today.


NEW – September 2019White paper: Emerging IoT Bearers for non-Mission Critical SCADA

March 2018 – White paper: Emerging Wireless Bearers for Mission Critical SCADA

To be read in conjunction with:

Technical Primer paper – Current and Emerging SCADA Wireless Bearers

While supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and telemetry systems have been used in the utility and oil and gas industries for many years, the recent focus on smart grids and smart energy management creates an exciting new opportunity for critical network providers.

SCADA and telemetry protocols are already optimised for narrowband data transmission and so are excellent contenders for using data bearers based on control and traffic channels, such as TETRA. This can increase the utilisation of an existing TETRA communications system, making the investment in the technology all the more beneficial.

Smart energy systems mean utility companies have to integrate information and communications technologies with the utility infrastructure. The aim is to provide real-time information and control of network assets, demand and embedded generation in order to balance the network’s behaviour. This will help to ensure secure, reliable and sustainable electricity supplies, as well as making a real impact on reducing energy consumption – and therefore reducing costs and the impact on the climate.

TETRA is an efficient choice for utility companies looking to introduce SCADA and Smart Grid applications and its unrivalled network security gives network operators confidence that the reliability, integrity and security of their operations will be maintained.  The benefits of TETRA and its use in the SCADA, Smart grid and Telemetry (SST) sector can be found here.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about TETRA, SCADA, Telemetry and Telecontrol including capacities, can be found here.

TETRA is widely used in the sector for voice calls, but is also being used today for a number of SCADA schemes, and a list can be found here.

TCCA established its SCADA, Smart Grid and Telemetry (SST) Working Group at the beginning of 2013.  The group is looking at ways for TETRA to exploit these new opportunities, and to enable utility companies and industry to participate in, and influence, the development of suitable solutions, both for traditional SCADA and telemetry applications and for the new application areas such as smart grids. The group’s main objective is to create a forum for users, manufacturers, system integrators and developers to share experiences and requirements, and catalyse the market for TETRA in the SCADA, telemetry and smart grid space.  The objectives can be summarised as follows:

  • to promote TETRA as the bearer of choice in the SCADA,  telemetry and smart grid areas
  • to consider complementary technologies, such as commercial and mission critical  LTE, for SCADA, telemetry and smart grid areas
  • to create a forum for users, manufacturers, system integrators and developers to share experiences and requirements
  • to drive relevant activities within the technology standards organisations to ensure evolution of critical communications standards encompasses the future needs of this market

You can also find a summary of group members and their related SCADA products and services here: LINK

Further details can be obtained by contacting the Chair:
Nick Smye (


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