Terrestrial Trunked Radio – TETRA Standard

Terrestrial Trunked Radio (formerly known as Trans European Trunked Radio) is a specialized professional mobile radio [PMR]  and two-way transceiver standard. TETRA was specifically designed for use by government agencies, emergency services (police  force, fire department, ambulance), rail transportation staff, transport services and the military. TETRA is an ETSI standard, first version was published in 1995. ETSI, the body that published the standard for GSM which is currently the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world, TETRA works in a very similar way to GSM the main differences being, the handsets have a longer range and there is more bandwidth allocated for data. TETRA is endorsed by the European Radio Communications Committee (ERC) and mandated for use in Europe.

Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) is a digital trunked mobile radio standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The purpose of the TETRA standard was to meet the needs of traditional Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) user organisations such as those listed below. The air interfaces, network interfaces as well as the services and facilities are specified in sufficient detail to enable independent manufacturers develop infrastructure and radio terminal products that would fully inter-operate with each other. For example, radio terminals from different manufacturers can operate on infrastructures from other manufacturers. The ability for full interoperability between different manufacturer’s products is a distinct advantage of open standards developed by ETSI. As the TETRA standard is supported by several independent manufacturers this increases competition, provides second source security and allows a greater choice of terminal products for specific user applications.

PMR Organizations Include:

  • Public Safety
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Government
  • Military
  • PAMR
  • Commercial & Industry
  • Oil & Gas

Because the TETRA standard has been specifically developed to meet the needs of a wide variety of traditional PMR user organisations it has a scaleable architecture allowing economic network deployments ranging from single site local area coverage to multiple site wide area national coverage.   Besides meeting the needs of traditional PMR user organisations, the TETRA standard has also been developed to meet the needs of Public Access Mobile Radio (PAMR) operators. The TETRA standard is in practice, a suite of standards covering different technology aspects, for example, air interfaces, network interfaces and its services and facilities. Because TETRA is an evolving standard it has been developed in Releases (phases) known as TETRA Release 1 and TETRA Release 2. Even though both TETRA Releases have been completed, work continues within ETSI Technical Committee (TC) TETRA to further enhance the standard thus satisfying new user requirements as well as gleaning the benefits of new technology innovations. Outside of Europe the ETSI TETRA Standard has been formerly adopted in China and South Korea.

Since the first generation of networks were deployed in 1997, hundreds of TETRA networks have been deployed across the world.  Even though a considerable number of these networks are deployed in Europe, a rapid uptake is occurring in the regions of Asia, Middle East and South America.  Although all PMR market segments are already being served by TETRA, the largest market is that of public safety, where the trend is for the deployment of nationwide networks shared by all public safety organisations for reasons of economics (sharing), autonomy of operation for routine communications and the ability to fully inter-operate with other services during emergency situations and disasters.

The transportation market is the next fastest growing market, especially for Mass Rapid Transport systems and major Airports.  Interestingly, TETRA is also used by the military for non-tactical operations, a market application not originally anticipated for TETRA. The success and market uptake of TETRA has attracted many independent manufacturers and suppliers of TETRA products and services, thereby providing users with healthy competition, second source security and wide choice of radio terminal equipment for specific applications. The success of TETRA has also created a strong base of application developers who are able to provide a wide variety of applications for use with TETRA.

The TETRA Association
Recognizing that important market requirements outside the responsibility of ETSI needed to be addressed to ensure the success of TETRA, a number of organisations formed the TETRA MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) Association in December 1994.  Since it has been established, the TETRA Association has grown significantly and now provides a forum which acts on behalf of its members, being user organisations, manufacturers, application providers, integrators, operators, test houses, regulators, consultants, etc. The main objectives of the TETRA Association are to promote the TETRA standard and to ensure multi-vendor equipment interoperability. (source www.tetra-association.com)

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