Ask The Expert: TETRA Radio

Offered By Channel 28 Ltd
  • Adrian Hicks
  • Director
  • +44 (0) 1306 257250

Adrian Hicks

What is TETRA radio?

TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is becoming an increasingly popular basis for crew communications systems among superyacht personnel. It has been specifically designed to provide secure, reliable and instant voice and data communications. For this reason, TETRA technology is deployed by a great majority of emergency services worldwide. What makes it different from standard radio is that it relies on digital ‘trunking’. This means that calls are centrally controlled, assigning each call to a channel, but prioritising emergency or higher priority calls where necessary, ensuring the optimum use of channels.

Building upon this digital, trunked technology, TETRA is broadly regarded as the next-generation face of onboard radio systems. Superyachts have traditionally benefited from an early embrace of cutting-edge technologies, but it is only comparatively recently that many superyacht crews have started to look at modernising their crew comms solutions. Crew radio systems on superyachts are often painfully out of date, and upgrading them to a secure and dependable standard has all too often been placed at the bottom of the priority list, if it has even been considered at all.

Channel 28 TETRA radio

Why should we use TETRA radio on board?

Outdated crew communications setups, especially where yachts are still using analogue systems, are often prone to signal distortion or high noise levels which obscure transmissions and can cause confusion. This potential ambiguity, allied to a strong probability of message delays and signal dropouts, increases the likelihood of costly or dangerous errors occurring. With TETRA systems, however, deck crews benefit from class-leading noise-cancelling equipment allowing clear speech in windy environments, while pre-emptive call allocation ensures that important communications take priority as and when required.

TETRA radios can also be tailored to suit the specific requirements of captains, crews and owners on any yacht, ensuring that information is quickly, clearly and efficiently conveyed to the correct recipients. There is also no risk of breaks in transmission occurring as the AV/IT officer will be alerted if the VSAT loses signal so that they can quickly transfer to 4G.

Where superyacht crews are concerned, TETRA systems will facilitate and clarify everything from important navigational or operational communications to day-to-day tasks related to guest comfort. If, for example, a guest requests a drink, a call is routed to the on-duty crew and, once acknowledged, the call is cancelled to other handsets to avoid an unnecessary response. TETRA really is the complete mission-critical solution on your belt, combined with a class-leading voice!

Channel 28 TETRA radio

How secure are TETRA radios?

TETRA radios are designed and constructed to a military standard, encrypting all voice, data and location information from sender to receiver. The security features, which include air interface or end-to-end encryption for call protection as well as terminal and network authentication, make them very appealing for crew communications. Security and control levels are further enhanced with fully automated processes. Solutions such as Motorola’s iTM (Integrated Terminal Management) system look after tasks that previously had to be performed manually, such as software upgrades, making alterations to group ID details within a fleet map or auditing radio assets.

Can TETRA be used over long distances from a superyacht?

While internal coverage is uniform and complete, TETRA systems also provide long-range coverage that can transmit to tenders and other fleet vessels; an invaluable asset which is not available with 4G or Wi-Fi alone. Another persuasive benefit of TETRA systems is the ability for users to assemble ‘mission-critical’ networks. This allows a device such as a tender radio to function as a relay for other handsets nearby that are out of range of the main yacht. The relay radio receives weak signals and retransmits them as a stronger signal so that users such as a shore party can then communicate on multiple channels directly in the absence of a network.

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