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    Mark a big one up for Tetra


    Swedish network a landmark

    Tetra proponents in other countries will have looked with mixed feelings at the announcement from Nokia today that it has won the contract to provide a dedicated radio network for the shared use of all public safety organisations in Sweden.

    The network (known as RAKEL) will cost the Swedish government somewhere in the region of €250 million and will be, geographically, the largest shared Tetra network in the world. Nokia has won the entire contract for the supply of all network equipment, including base stations, exchanges and dispatcher workstations. The network will be integrated and installed bv Saab and operated by Swedia.

    From another standpoint, a win for Tetra is always good news for other Tetra vendors, whoever chalks up the sale. The Swedish government only recently plumped for Tetra over Tetrapol, its (bitter) rival digital radio technology. The shared use of Tetra by police, fire, ambulance and other public safety organisations is always proposed as one of the main benefits of the digital radio technology. But although the theory of allowing the emergency services to communicate directly with one another, wherever they are in a country, has its advantages, it has not always won out.

    In the UK, although the regional police services are in the process of replacing their existing radio systems with Tetra networks, they are all doing so individually, and the concept of a national network is still just that. The UK fire service has taken a different view and is still deciding which technology it will choose.

    Across the continent the picture is similarly fragmented, with virtually no governments having made the decision to move to a unified, shared network. In many countries the actual technical decision between Tetra and Tetrapol itself is not uniform, let alone hosting the communications of all the services on one network. So Sweden will be hailed by the TETRA community as a flagship project.

    One noticeable things about the Swedish network is that the government has gone for an all-Nokia network, but there has been no simultaneous announcement on handsets. In the UK, Airwave’s network is built on Motorola equipment but is not restricted to Motorola. A quarter billion pound Tetra network in Sweden at least provides an opportunity for Sepura and Motorola to shift their handsets.

    One issue that will have to address is that of consumer worries at Tetra base stations being erected. A source at Airwave confirmed to Mobile Europe that protests against masts have in some areas stopped network rollout in its racks. And where Airwave has used its powers to install base stations in the face of opposition, it has resulted in unwelcome publicity for its O2 parent. But that is a battle that all radio network operators are going to have to fight from now on, irrespective of technology.

    External Links

    Nokia Tetra