Further update on the United Kingdom (UK) Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) upgrade to ESN

Further to our blog on 25th April 2018, we understand that the UK Home Office has agreed that the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) will be rolled out in number of phases starting from January 2019.

However, the overall switch-over date to the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) is getting delayed and the UK Home Office is currently in discussions to extend the use of the existing TETRA radio system for another 3 years, so the final switch-off date for TETRA could be as late as December 2022 or later.

It seems apparent that there will be a slow roll-out of the new ESN equipment and in the transition phase both systems (ESN and TETRA) will be running in parallel.

The existing voice feature of TETRA has a unique Push to talk (PTT) feature, which means immediate communication by a button to switch from voice transmission mode to voice reception mode (similar to a walkie-talkie).

This Push to talk (PTT) feature has only recently been implemented into the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard which is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile devices and data terminals.  As far as we are aware the Handsets for this have only just recently been tested and this feature needs to be commercially available before the final switch over can occur.

In our opinion the Data part of the network will transition to ESN first as LTE has higher Data rates compared with TETRA, followed later by voice when it is available. This means that the current TETRA system will be available for some time to come. Which means vehicles and personnel will still need to carry voice compatible TETRA equipment unit the switch-over is complete, and Python will still be able to detect these TETRA systems.