Motorola and ETSI Address TETRA in North America
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 | Comments




By Sandra Wendelken, Editor


The director general of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which oversees standardization of TETRA technology, asked the chairman of the ETSI working group TC TETRA to work with Motorola to gain agreement from the firm to license its essential intelligent property rights (IPRs) for North America. The development took place at an ETSI general assembly meeting in Nice, France, at the end of November.

ETSI officials are also seeking legal advice on the issue of TETRA in North America and will report back to the next general assembly in April 2009. A Motorola spokesman present at the meeting said that in principle Motorola would license TETRA in the United States with some conditions, according to several industry sources.

“Motorola believes that a standard development organization (SDO)-based approach supported by a defined set of user requirements and ongoing dialogue is the best forum to ensure that the technical merits and practical implications of introducing TETRA into the U.S. can be appropriately debated and considered,” said Matthew Messinger, a U.S.-based Motorola spokesman, in response to questions from MissionCritical Communications.

Meanwhile, the TETRA Association and TETRA suppliers are moving forward with discussions and pilots of the technology targeted at the North American market.

“Users in North America are aware of the widespread use of TETRA and regularly approach the association to see when it will be available there,” said Phil Kidner, chief executive officer (CEO) of the TETRA Association. “The association is working with a number of TETRA manufacturers to establish pilot systems that will demonstrate to interested users that TETRA can meet their requirements in differing environments.”

Kidner said the details of the pilots, including the participants and timeframes, haven’t been identified yet. However, he said the TETRA Association will hold a TETRA workshop at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) March 18, 2009, in Las Vegas. “Anyone interested in what TETRA is and what it offers should come along,” he said.

Mark Thomas, strategic marketing director at Team Simoco, which offers TETRA and Project 25 (P25) radio equipment worldwide, said the extension of the TETRA standard in North America is not a bipartisan issue, but an industry issue. “We see the issue of market freedom as central to the whole debate; organizations need to be able to have the best communications tools for the job — be that analog, P25 or TETRA,” Thomas said.

“We are currently asking the question of whether organizations in North America are planning to deploy TETRA equipment. If so, then we would be pleased to demonstrate to them the TETRA equipment and solutions we are able to offer, and the proven benefits that our TETRA solutions are delivering to organizations in other global markets,” Thomas said.

Earlier this year, the TETRA Association received letters of enquiry from the Utility Telecommunications Council (UTC) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) after members of the associations expressed interest in the technology. Last month, officials from Tait, which doesn’t currently offer TETRA products, said they have no plans to develop a TETRA platform for North America or other geographic markets. The New Zealand-based company will instead focus on the ETSI-developed Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) standard.

“The TETRA standard was considered by the P25 steering committee several years ago as a possible candidate for use in mission-critical networks, and it concluded that APCO P25 was better suited to the US operating environment,” said Motorola’s Messinger. “No other North American SDO has come forward since then to reconsider TETRA as a suitable telecommunications standard in North America.”

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