Norwegian, Finnish TETRA Networks Hold First Call
Friday, December 08, 2017 | Comments

The first call between the TETRA administrative radio networks of Finland and Norway took place 8 December.

Finland and Norway are now implementing roaming in their administrative radio networks as the second pair of countries in the world. Public officers will use a shared communications channel when roaming. The connection is important in the border areas where the emergency response center, social and health services, police, rescue officials, defense forces and border guard can communicate in an accident or catastrophe situation securely and without breaks using the same bandwidth. This helps to ensure that those in need of rescue are brought to safety faster and more securely than before.

“Administrative radio network roaming will enhance cooperation between our countries in emergency situations,” said CEO Timo Lehtimäki of State Security Networks Group Finland. “From 2005 onwards, cooperation between different authorities in Finland has been completely unique, even on a global scale. Now we are able to extend this cooperation across the Nordic borders, which is very important for the future of this region. Finland and Norway have 736 kilometers of shared borderline in Lapland. In this sparsely populated area, it’s challenging to provide rescue services quickly. The closest police or first aid unit may actually be in the neighboring country.”

Until now, the network coverage for Finland’s VIRVE devices and other equipment for officials ended soon after crossing the border. This was the motivation for combining VIRVE and Norway’s Nødnett using an Inter-System-Interface (ISI) solution. Now, Finnish VIRVE phones can be used to make calls in the entire Norwegian administrative radio network, and they can also be operated using Norwegian Nødnett base stations.

In addition to calls, the Finnish VIRVE network relays 50 million short data service (SDS) messages weekly. In the same way, Norwegian officials can now contact their colleagues anywhere in Finland and use Norwegian devices in the Finnish VIRVE network.

Airbus Defence and Space supplied the Finnish network, and Motorola Solutions supplied the Norwegian network. Sweden and Norway — the first European countries to implement cross-border TETRA roaming last year — were used as a model for the technical solutions needed for combing the Finnish and Norwegian networks.

Rules of cooperation will determine practical operations. In their agreement, VIRVE and Nødnett will lay out the rules for cooperation, as well as details concerning maintenance, division of costs and other practical issues.

The end users — emergency response centers, police, rescue departments, social and health services, defense forces, customs and border guards — must agree on how to use the system, talkgroups, procedures and responsibilities. In short, officials must determine who and which group to call on the other side of the border in a specific situation.

“For example, in case of a fire, in Norway the police are in charge but in Finland, it’s the rescue department. Combining the operational models takes a lot of work,” said Lehtimäki.

The project began in February when a preliminary agreement was concluded. The technical implementation has taken a year. After working in a testing environment, combining the operative networks began, and the first call was placed 8 December. The networks will be tested into 2018.

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