Critical communication users often operate in dangerous situations within challenging environments. Trusted communication capabilities are very important for these users, and in extreme situations the communication channel is a vitally important – it can literally save lives. Therefore it is essential that critical communications users can control the communications. The key control aspects are service availability, quality of service, operational management and cost.
Communication services need to be available always and everywhere – it is impossible to predict when and where incidents take place. Good geographical radio coverage (both on network and off network) is the most important vehicle needed for high service availability. Resiliency solutions (for the critical communication network, for the transmission network …) are other important high availability enablers.
However, high service availability is not enough. The quality of communication services needs to match with user requirements. This means that communication services need to seamlessly support users’ operational processes, users need to have interoperable services and prioritisation of communication needs in order to work effectively between users/user organisations and switch efficiently between routine and emergency communication.
Communication needs vary depending on incidents and applied operational processes. It is important that there are means for adjusting the communication structure efficiently – this includes for example creating new communication groups, priorities, managing group memberships and combining different groups. This kind of operational management needs to be addressed autonomously and independently by critical user organisations.
Costs of critical communication are typically covered from governmental, state or city budgets as well as from the industry organisations. There is careful planning for annual and longer term framework budgets, and critical communication costs need to be predictable. This same principle holds both for CAPEX and OPEX costs.
The critical communication community needs to have control over the above mentioned aspects. There are different ways to implement this control, such as contractual setup with the service provider or acquisition of related assets.
Designing and building critical service requires special expertise – a skill TETRA vendors and integrators have a proven record of delivering. The world of police, fire, rescue, and other industrial professionals are so vastly different than that of consumers; the first responders deliver critical services to society and need to be supported by critical expertise and networks.
TETRA vendors transfer expertise to owners of TETRA networks to enable them to operate their networks in a way that exactly matches their operational needs. Expertise from one special installation somewhere in the world is being transferred to other customers elsewhere.
Employees in companies providing TETRA solutions have decades of experience, bringing the expertise needed to provide the critical solution that the police in the dark alley at night and the fire and rescue team going into a burning building rely on as well as the specialists operating the public important metro line
The front line staff who use radios every day are employees who have a legal right to a safe working environment. The responsible management therefore rely very much on special expertise in the design and build of critical solutions.
TETRA equipment lasts. Investments in infrastructure easily cover 10-15 years in the core and even longer for base stations. Devices have been shown to have a typical lifespan of 7-10 years in the field. Users, operators and investors rely on the very well documented standard, constantly being maintained, evolved and improved by ETSI.
TETRA has been developed from the bottom up to meet the needs of critical users. ETSI has developed and enhanced the TETRA standard over many years, bringing the number of dedicated features and functions to well over 300 – functions and features that will be relevant for many years into the future.
TETRA provides multi-vendor choice – allowing customers to switch from one supplier to another without sacrificing the multitude of functions and features TETRA provides.
Many national networks have been upgraded in the last five years and had their life extended – some have maintenance contracts beyond 2035.
Control room vendors have their systems tightly integrated with TETRA networks, and many users have optimised operational processes around the flexible capabilities of TETRA.