TETRA – secure communications for public transport

25 February 2016  •  Author(s): Eurotransport

Public transport companies around the world increasingly rely on secure, protected and highly available communication solutions. This market offers huge potential, and is steadily evolving as communications technology advances. TETRA voice and data communications play a major role in safeguarding public transport networks, and operators who deploy TETRA benefit from its many advantages.

TETRA – secure communications for public transport

The TETRA standard is highly specified and specifically designed to deliver secure and reliable operation, high scalability, safety against external manipulation and high system availability – all of which make the technology a critical element in maintaining the integrity of public transport and protecting staff and customers. In addition, public transport communications are by their nature deployed in locations where many people congregate, so robust networks are crucial for the provision of continuous communications during emergencies. The emergency services must be able to communicate, and expect a fully redundant, uninterrupted service.

Whether the transport runs on the ground, under it, or both, effective communications mean instant, reliable, two-way communication between drivers and dispatchers, stations and security personnel. Public transport vehicles change network cells frequently, making rapid cell handovers essential. For metro communication, radio coverage is needed in a tunnel: an environment that by its nature limits the movement of radio waves.

TETRA delivers all this capability and more – and at the forefront of its deployment and development are members of the TCCA, the industry organisation for critical communications. TCCA members design, manufacture, deliver, deploy and support innovative solutions for transport. We look at a few examples here.

ASTRID keeps the transport operator connected

Bus drivers and controllers can shuttle seamlessly between the Belgian cities of Liège and Verviers since transport operator TEC (Terre En Commun) joined ASTRID, Belgium’s countrywide TETRA-based public safety radio network. The seamless radio connections make changing drivers, controlling schedules and following up in the event of a breakdown much easier. ASTRID has already boosted its coverage to reach across the transport network as far as the Dutch and German borders, as the old analogue system only allowed the controllers to communicate in the downtown area of Liège. The ASTRID network also improves driver safety, thanks to reliable communications throughout the bus routes…

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