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O N L I N E  E X C L U S I V E

Broadband Dominates Discussion at TETRA World Congress

June 14, 2011

 
 
 
The migration to broadband was a main theme at this year’s TETRA World Congress in Budapest, Hungary. While emphasizing that mission-critical voice communications will continue via TETRA networks for years to come, several TETRA suppliers had announcements specific to broadband technology.
 
Cassidian Communications and Alcatel-Lucent announced a joint development agreement under which the two companies will provide a mobile broadband solution for emergency response and security communications systems operating in the 400 MHz spectrum band. Using LTE technology, the joint Alcatel-Lucent and Cassidian offering will support broadband data services such as mobile video security, location-based video services, and smart vehicle integration of devices and applications to complement voice and data systems.
 
The announcement is important for markets such as Europe and Hong Kong where TETRA networks operate in 400 MHz bands. In addition, the technology could be deployed in countries that have commercial CDMA 450 networks, Cassidian executives said.
 
Eric Davalo, chief technology officer (CTO) for Cassidian, said the technology will operate in 1.4 megahertz channels. Cassidian will supply 400 MHz LTE chipsets for terminals, high-power base stations, and LTE terminals and applications for the public-safety market. The LTE technology will allow the reuse of TETRA sites operating in the same 400 MHz spectrum.
 
U.S. public-safety officials are planning to deploy a public-safety broadband network at 700 MHz using 5-megahertz channels. Cassidian and Alcatel-Lucent also have an agreement to develop 700 MHz LTE equipment for public safety.
 
“Broadband capacity is becoming a critical ingredient of public-safety communications, delivering new mission-driven applications such as video-based situational awareness that were impossible before,” said Tom Burns, president, enterprise and strategic industries, Alcatel-Lucent.
 
Giovanni Guidotti, Selex Communications deputy CTO and vice president of technology and product planning, said broadband will likely be an extension of TETRA networks with shared services. He said the technology will be deployed in a phased approach with broadband overlays on TETRA Enhanced Data Services (TEDS) dedicated private systems.
 
Guidotti cited broadband requirements detailed by the U.S. National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), noting that 80 kilobits per second (kbps) data speeds are sufficient for most public-safety applications. NPSTC is a federation of U.S. public-safety associations.
 
“I’m not convinced everyone needs broadband but data use will increase,” said Airwave CTO Euros Evans. “Voice and data will converge.” Evans noted several operational challenges for broadband deployment, along with costs and spectrum harmonization in Europe. Airwave operates the U.K. nationwide public-safety TETRA network.
 
Tom Quirk, Motorola vice president and general manager for TETRA products, said the only public-safety application that wouldn’t be available on a TEDS network is streaming video. Quirk said Motorola’s latest TETRA infrastructure products, which are LTE compliant and will be available later this year, will use 60 percent less power and require a 30 percent smaller footprint than current products.
 
Andrew Seybold, a U.S. consultant for the public-safety communications market, offered suggestions for securing spectrum for broadband deployments. He said public safety must speak as one voice and to plan for enough spectrum for daily communications needs. He also gave details of public-safety LTE tests in the Washington, D.C. region.
 
Thales launched Every Talk, what it called the first ruggedized push-to-talk (PTT) terminal with broadband capabilities for LTE or WiMAX systems.
 
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