Featured solutions

Case study: Get smart

TETRA networks can smooth the way for smart grids. Power and utility companies will soon be able to save money, lower energy consumption, reduce peak demand and ensure a more reliable power supply.


The reason: The smart grid, a digitally enabled electrical grid that gathers, distributes, and acts on information about the behavior of suppliers and consumers. It uses this information to reduce sags, spikes and other disturbances in the power supply, as well as to protect the power system from attacks and natural disasters.

That means the smart grid has to be ... well, smart. The power system must be able to:

  • Sense system overloads and reroute power automatically to prevent or reduce outages
  • Respond autonomously to manage supplies more quickly and efficiently than human operators
  • Meet rising consumer demand without adding infrastructure
  • Accommodate energy from the range of potential sources
  • Be flexible enough to integrate new technologies as they come online

Realising this vision for smart grids will take smart communications.

TETRA supports smart grids

Communications provide critical support for the smart grid. Smart routing and smart devices must "talk" to each other to even out peaks in power consumption and enable utility companies to reduce excess capacity and redundancy. And as the industry shifts from fewer larger generators to more smaller contributors, signalling traffic will increase.

One smart solution: dedicated TETRA networks.

TETRA networks are more resilient to disruptions such as natural disasters, accidents and cyber attacks than other networks. That's critical: Disruptions to the power supply can have huge consequences, both in economic and human terms.

Because TETRA is wireless, it's also a cost-efficient way of deploying last-mile connections. That's important as power companies add smart metering and environmental sensoring in consumer's homes and workplaces.

Later, as distributed power generation demands more signalling, affordable last-mile connections will become essential.

How affordable? The frequency licence for a dedicated LTE network on commercial frequencies alone could cost more than a TETRA network from Airbus, complete with radio terminals.

3 ways to get smart with TETRA

Here are three ways that energy and utility companies can deploy TETRA communications for smart grids:

1. Build your own voice and narrowband data TETRA network.

2. Build a TETRA network dedicated to data, then activate voice services when you need them.

3. Subscribe to a shared, public safety TETRA network. You'll get ubiquitous voice coverage for maintenance personnel while using spectrum more efficiently and lowering your total cost of ownership.

When you share in an Airbus TETRA network, critical services - like power and utility companies - can be given priority. Plus, you'll be able to build additional data-oriented capacity to bypass any bottlenecks, which is essential for a smart grid.

TETRA for every phase of the smart grid

The smart grid is evolving in phases:

  1. Beginning with smart metering
  2. Progressing to smart traffic management
  3. Ultimately achieving full integration into an intelligent, distributed system

All the while, utility companies need voice coverage for engineers working in the field.

As the smart grid evolves, it will outgrow existing voice networks, which have been designed to provide wide coverage for relatively few users. Smart grid data traffic will even tests the data transmission capacity of TETRA networks designed for voice and narrowband data.

The solution? TB3p mini base stations from Airbus.

  • Reduce site costs. TB3p mini base stations are small — about the size of a laptop — so they'll fit into existing equipment rooms and cabinets. That means resulting site costs are negligible.
  • Multiply capacity. A single carrier TB3p base station can provide up to eight times the SDS capacity and up to 40 times the IP packet data speed of standard TETRA Main Control Channel or single slot packet data service.
  • Grow your network as you grow. Data modules can provide the data link between the base station and the grid elements. So you can add enough TB3p cells to fit any capacity requirement.
  • Increase spectrum efficiency. Because you don't need to locate TB3p cells on hilltops, you can use same frequency nearby without interference, thus boosting spectrum efficiency.