CCW 2014 Focuses on TETRA’s Global Future
Monday, June 02, 2014 | Comments

This year’s message at Critical Communications World (CCW) 2014 was quite different from last year’s focus on Europe’s plan to lobby for spectrum for Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. Since the conference was set in the Asia Pacific region, the theme centered on TETRA’s future, and how other technologies, such as LTE, might be used to augment it.

The resounding message was clear: TETRA is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Last year set a record for shipments of TETRA terminals. With new systems underway and existing TETRA networks being upgraded or replaced with updated TETRA technology, it appears that TETRA will remain a formidable solution for secure networks around the world.

However, it’s no secret that the hunger for data is exponentially growing each year. According to Paul Steinberg, senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) of Motorola Solutions, 90 percent of all data was created in the past two years. As more people use smart devices to manage their lives, they expect the same level of functionality in their work environment.

The question remains, how can TETRA accommodate this need? Many people see LTE as the solution. In the United States, spectrum has been allocated for a public-safety LTE network. The network logistics are proving to be more difficult than expected and the cost to build out a network is exorbitant. If you want a dedicated LTE network, two things are necessary, spectrum and money — lots of it. In some parts of the world, LTE will probably never be an option.

With all the hype about LTE, it’s no wonder people are confused. At the panel discussion “Exploring the Possibilities for Deploying LTE for Professional Users,” the message was confusing. On one end, Norman Frisch, marketing director, enterprise wireless solution, Huawei, said safe, secure LTE is here today. On the other end, Eric Davalo, CTO security solutions, Airbus Defence and Space, said secure LTE for critical communications was about 10 years out, and more likely 15 – 20 years away. Other panelists from Axell Wireless, Motorola Solutions, Teltronic and Alcatel-Lucent said the answer falls in between.

Most panelists felt an open standard must be established before organizations could move forward with dedicated, secure LTE networks. With technology advancing at Mach 1, is it possible for a safe, secure LTE open standard to keep up with it? In the meantime, companies will use commercial LTE for non-secure information to augment their secure TETRA networks, where available, and continue using TETRA Enhanced Data Services for mission-critical data. In Belgium, ASTRID is acting as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), by working with local 3G carriers to provide secure data.

Video applications that enhance security and remote monitoring were hot on the trade show floor, as were smaller, lighter terminals. The trend in systems is to combine different features for a robust turnkey solution.

The future of critical communications solutions depends on geographic location, available funds and the local regulatory environment. If spectrum is not secured for dedicated LTE in a particular region, then it won’t be developed. Other technologies will serve the needs of the government and critical industry, TETRA being one of them.

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