TWC 2012 interview: Motorola Solutions’ Tom Quirke on why TETRA has plenty of life in it yet

Motorola Solutions displayed its confidence in the TETRA standard with a number of key product launches at TETRA World Congress in Dubai, including the new MTP3000 portable radio series. James Atkinson talks to Motorola VP Tom Quirke

TWC 2012 interview: Motorola Solutions’ Tom Quirke on why TETRA has plenty of life in it yet

The news that the TETRA standard has been adopted in a further 57 countries over the last five years is music to the ears of Tom Quirke, VP of worldwide product and solutions marketing at Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions.

‘It’s a testament to where TETRA is going,’ he says enthusiastically. ‘The fact that TETRA has now been adopted in over 100 countries shows it is now truly a global standard. Independent research by IMS shows some great growth rates for three key verticals: public safety and government; transportation and logistics – particularly metros and rail; and utilities with oil, gas and wind farms. They all see themselves as mission critical and must be able to operate whatever the conditions.’

Quirke points out that TETRA is a very rich standard now, which means it can be adopted by the wider community, be they public safety or commercial customers. While much of the growth is coming from the Asia Pacific region, Quirke says it is good to remind people that the cradle of TETRA was Europe and there are still new roll outs happening there – in particular Germany and Norway – and refreshes to come in mature markets.

LTE and broadband may be the words on everyone’s lips, but the day when LTE offers a single, combined voice and data network for public safety organisations is unlikely to happen much before 2025/26 in most estimations. TETRA, it seems will be around for some time yet and Motorola Solutions certainly displayed its confidence in the standard with its new launches at TETRA World Congress in Dubai.

These include the new MTP3000 series of radios, a rugged telephone-style control head for the MTM5400 radio, an enhanced version of its TRACES real-time coverage monitoring product and the next generation Dimetra IP Micro platform incorporating TEDS.

Quirke says that Motorola’s product development thinking centres round three key areas: meeting the needs of single man policing/lone working; do more with less to help clients get a better return on investment in a tough financial environment; and future proofing, so customers do not make the wrong technology decisions and get lumbered with out of date and unsupported equipment.

MTP3000 TETRA portable radio series

Turning to the three new portable TETRA radios in the MTP3000 series, Quirke says: ‘We’ve spoken to customers from day one and noted the change in usage patterns and certain desires they have. TETRA is evermore the dominant reliant system – it is the lifeline, particularly now we are seeing policing moving to smaller patrol sizes, including single officer patrols, where the radio becomes the only back up available.’

Motorola looked to redesign the radio from the bottom up by providing a totally new platform with new capabilities. ‘We looked at what is important as a lifeline and the first thing is to have phenomenal audio. We have introduced a 2W speaker with a very slim port design, very directional in how the audio comes out, and where you can hear the radio in very high noise conditions and that is vital,’ emphasises Quirk.

The second aspect Motorola addressed was connectivity. ‘We’ve done something that has never been done before,’ says Quirk. ‘We’ve broken the ETSI specs in terms of what the minimum capability on receiver sensitivity is.’

The receiver sensitivity on the new radios is 2Db better than the ETSI standard and the benefit of this is that by exceeding the standard the radios gain a 14% increase in range without doing anything to the network.

The third area to receive improvement is the ruggedness of the radios. Quirke explains: ‘Some customers told us they’d changed their radio usage from individual personal issue to a pooled radio system. There are good economic reasons for doing this, but when a radio is pooled it is treated in a very different way. So, the MTP300 series are safer and tougher and are very easy to use.’

The radios sport a cellular style interface, which is quicker to use thanks to a faster processor that comes with the new platform. Motorola has also tried to make the radios easier to use in other ways, such the ease of attaching and decoupling accessories.

Quirke says customers have asked for a really strong connector. The latest ones now have a 40lb breaking strain. In addition, previously a user would have screw the accessory on. But that takes two hands, one to hold the radio and the other to screw on the accessory, taking up to 10 seconds to connect or disconnect.

'We’ve come up with a revolutionary design for connectors, which allows you to use one hand,’ says Quirke. ‘You can use one finger on your non-dominant hand to connect or disconnect the accessory in less than two seconds.’

He adds that Motorola has also revisited the ergonomics of the radios, so that users can operate them instinctively, while keeping their eyes on the incident they are dealing with.

‘We’ve looked at the weight balance, the way the thumb fits in for the PTT button and in a new design move, we now have just two knobs on the radio. The reason for that is a lot of analogue customers are moving to TETRA and they are used to two-knob radios. We want to make it easy for them to transition, so that’s why there’s one knob for the channel and the other for the volume.’

Quirke concludes: ‘It’s a fantastic package, which sets a new premium in the market. This is a radio that is set above all others in terms of base capabilities, the fundamentals that are drilled into the radios from scratch.’

Ruggedised telephone style handset

The ruggedised telephone style handset is designed to plug into a mobile radio in a car or vehicle, but with the ability to use it in more than one part of the vehicle. The obvious illustration is fire truck, where the handset can be plugged into the pump bay at the end and also into the radio in the front cabin. The crew can then communicate backwards and forwards because it’s the same radio and fully within the TETRA environment.

Quirke adds: ‘It is waterproof of course and what we have done uniquely is to make sure the interface between the telephone style handset and the mobile radio is fully digital. This is important because there is often a lot of electromagnetic interference around the vehicle.’

The handset can be used up to a range of 40m. A mobile radio could be placed in the middle of the train with two telephone style handsets at either end giving you an 80m distance from one end to the other. ‘It’s a great transportation solution for trains and railway stock,’ says Quirke.

TRACES software upgrade

On the TETRA infrastructure side, Motorola has looked at ways customers can optimise their investment. It has upgraded its TRACES software, which allows users to download all the radio data, such as signal information and performance of the link, so the network operators can see the performance stats.

Quirke says: ‘Now they can take the uplink data and store that in the database as well – it’s almost instantaneous. They can see officers changing routes and identify early on where there might be coverage issues. They can contact the officers and say we think you are going to an area where you might have some coverage issues, so we will look at how we can add that coverage.’

Dimetra IP Micro platform with TEDS

Motorola’s other major launch in Dubai was the Dimetra IP Micro platform incorporating TEDS. ‘This is the final completion of the entire infrastructure portfolio to be TEDS capable,’ explains Quirke.

‘For quite a while now our major operators have been able to buy big systems and base stations that are TEDS capable’, he says. ‘We’ve now taken that down to the smallest of the smallest systems, so all enterprise and commercial users, if they buy a system, know that all of the infrastructure we supply is TEDS enabled from day one. What that means is, they don’t have to buy any new hardware or change over base stations.’

Quirke continues: ‘It is future proofed, if and when they decide to use TEDS, so they don’t have to worry about it. They can use that system for 10-15 years and expect to use that equipment for its lifetime. TEDS allows them to have infrastructure that supports 90% of data applications.’

He adds that, of course, the one thing TEDS does not support is video, because of the bandwidth requirements. But he points out that Motorola is one of the largest public safety providers of LTE in the world in terms of both infrastructure and devices. The company was the first to announce an LTE device for public safety earlier this year in the shape of the LEX 700.

‘It is a combination of many years of R&D into LTE,’ says Quirke. ‘We feel we are leading the industry and are also taking the LTE standard and improving it and making it more robust for public safety, but without changing the standard so people still get the economies of scale.’

Looking towards an LTE future

He says that Motorola is looking at how to evolve the standard so that when customers make a big investment in TETRA, the company can find the best way to help them migrate to LTE in the future.

‘The big challenge outside of North America, and it’s a community challenge, is making sure we work together with the associations to get harmonised spectrum and it is critical we do so,’ says Quirke. ‘We believe we need a minimum of 2 x 5MHz with a path to 2 x 10MHz. That will give the capacity requirements you need to get the full capability of broadband. That will transform public safety when it happens.

‘We are now getting the refresh from the first investors in TETRA, but we are confident that they will refresh using TETRA,’ he continues. ‘Their voice is heard and they can change the standard. They certainly influence us vendors because the community is the right size to drive the global standard, which is kind of unique.’

Quirke concludes: ‘We feel that we have comfortably met the three requirements of our customers: safety; do more with less by getting more features out on the TETRA network and providing a very rich environment; and future proofing by giving them the maximum amount of options; TETRA, single slot packet data, multi-slot packet data, TEDS and ultimately LTE.’


New Motorola products at TWC 2012

MTP3000 TETRA radio series

The three versions: MTP3100 (entry-level), MTP3200 (mid-range) and MTP3250 (high-end) are aimed at meeting the differing needs of users, ranging from entry-level to advanced, with feature sets that match operational needs.

Dimetra IP Micro platform incorporating TEDS

The new platform offers a TETRA Enhanced Data Service (TEDS) solution for commercial and enterprise users and is designed to increase mobile work team efficiency. Enterprises will benefit from up to 20 times greater data capacity, as well as enabling support for a much broader range of content-rich business applications.

TRACES real-time coverage monitoring

The new version of TRACES will enable public safety network operators to collect, visualise and evaluate real-time data from mission-critical TETRA networks, allowing them to view usage patterns and quickly identify and react to coverage black spots, thereby maintaining a stable network at all times for users in the field.

Rugged telephone-style control head for MTM5400 radio

The new rugged, waterproof, telephone-style control head, together with Ethernet-based dual control head capability, can be switched from fire truck cab to pump bay to enhance a response teams’ safety and incident management options. 

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

Leave a Comment