TETRA was developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and has been rapidly adopted on other continents from the Americas to the Far East and was developed to address the unique integrated requirements of PMR and PAMR such as: group and broadcast calls, emergency calls, fast access (<300 ms cell set up), Direct mode (DMO), dispatch operation, encryption, integrated telephony and scalable infrastructure
Initially TETRA started life in 1989 as Mobile Digital TRunked Radio System (MDTRS). In the early 90’s the project name changed to Trans European Trunked Radio (TETRA) however in the mid 90’s the meaning of the TETRA acronym changed to TErrestrial Trunked RAdio, as global market potential became apparent.
Development of the standard
Work started on the development of the TETRA standards in 1990 and has relied on the support of the European Commission and the ETSI members. Experience gained in the development of the highly successful GSM cellular radio standard, as well as experience from the development and use of trunked radio systems has also been used to fashion the TETRA standard. In addition to this the process has gained from the co-operation of manufacturers, users, operators and industry experts. With this combined expertise the first standards for the new private mobile radio communications system were ready in 1995 to enable manufacturers to design their radio communications equipment to interoperate successfully.
The first contracts for deploying TETRA networks was back in 1996 and since the first generation of networks were deployed in July 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 interoperate with other services during emergency situations and disasters.
At the TETRA World Congress in November 2004, it was reported by the TETRA MoU Association that 622 contracts had been placed for TETRA spanning 70 countries world-wide (90% increase over those recorded in 2003).
In June 2008 the number of contracts increased up to 103 countries.
The last few years
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.
In June 2008 the number of contracts increased up to 103 countries and according to the TETRA Association at the end of 2010 TETRA was in use in 121 countries around the world.