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Group communication over radio: Dream team connections

Five ways to get the most from your TETRA system's one-to-many calling features. Don't let your group communications get lost in a crowd.


With the TETRA radio system from Airbus, it's easy to make one-to-many calls. Thanks to its advanced group communication features, TETRA can help you help your people:

  • Get the right information, reliably and on time.
  • Improve security and efficiency.
  • Concentrate on the task at hand, not on communicating.
  • Make thoroughly informed decisions.
  • Handle everything from everyday tasks to concerted efforts at major incidents.

Here's how to get the most from your TETRA system's sophisticated group communication possibilities:

1. Control communication.

Talk about crowd control.

With unsophisticated trunked radio networks, organisations are limited to simple communication structures that often don't support actual operations. Everyone in the field may have to communicate on the same talk group, for instance. Or dedicated personnel — "middlemen" — act as lazy Susans, manually maintaining group information and directing individuals to the right calls.

But with a TETRA system from Airbus, dispatchers can control group memberships. The system and dispatcher know which group users have selected and which are in scanning. The dispatcher can even send group definitions to users over the air.

This flexibility makes it easy implement the communication plans you need — and not just the one that was possible before.

2. Prioritize talk groups.

Some information is more important than others.

TETRA systems from Airbus let you prioritize talk groups, creating a communication structure that defines which group's information is likely to be more important than the others. Then, with priority scanning, your users will hear higher priority calls first, even when there's traffic on a lower priority group.

→ Tip: Make sure your colleagues who are used to analogue systems know about this capability. With analogue systems, users remained on one channel until ordered to change. They'd miss relevant information waiting for them on another channel unless they manually switched to the right channel.

If you're not using active priority scanning, you're missing a key benefit.

3. Define talk groups flexibly.

Make the most of your resources with the TETRA system's two (plus one) principles for defining talk groups:

  • Geographic talk groups. Based on location, these groups are meant to communicate within a certain area.
  • Functional talk groups. Created for a specific purpose, these can be used anywhere within network coverage. With Airbus TETRA, your talk groups can be available wherever you are.
  • Fit-to-purpose talk groups. You can also use both principles to define a talk group for a specific task and within a certain area.

Now add priorities to these flexible principles, and you can implement a huge variety of operational models. You'll know that every member of each group will get all the information they need to do the job well.

4. Control group membership.

The TETRA system from Airbus makes life easy for authorised users and tough for unauthorised ones.

How? By providing three dimensions of access control:

  1. Authorised dispatchers define group members. That gives dispatchers control over who participates in each group. Groups can encompass the whole organisation, department or team.
  2. Dispatchers determine whether users can actively listen to a group.
  3. Once the authorised dispatcher has defined group members, user organisations manage groups independently. The groups are invisible to the network operator, for example, who concentrates on managing the network infrastructure.

The result: Users get flexibility and privacy.

Dispatchers might, for example, establish a temporary co-operation group with the fire chief, police chief and medical chief. To activate the group, the dispatcher sends the group definitions to the chiefs over the air. Then group members can start following communications in that group.

There's no need to change the authorisation as you'd have to in a system with only one dimension of access control.#

5. Establish communication hierarchy.

Private radio networks used to be a cacophony — a Tower of Babel where everyone in the field used the same channel and heard everything everyone else said.

It's true that people can do their jobs more effectively and make better decisions when they have the right information. But irrelevant information can distract people from their own work, and could lead to dangerous and expensive mistakes in fields like police work and firefighting.

The TETRA system from Airbus solves the problem with communication hierarchy — a tool that allows group users to get relevant information and only relevant information. Users can speak to the selected group using the normal push-to-talk (PPT) button and use the second push-to-talk button to speak to the group higher in the hierarchy.

Take firefighting.

In the heat of the action, a fire chief doesn't need to know what individual firefighters are saying to make informed decisions. In fact, the problems individuals face in the field could actually distract the chief from his job: controlling the whole incident. And overhearing the chief's every word would also distract individual firefighters from their job.

With communication hierarchy:

  • The fire chief controls the scene of the fire, communicating with firefighting team leaders through a special talk group.
  • Team leaders get word to the chief via second PPT, then communicate with their own firefighters via normal PPT.

Strength in numbers

Airbus systems go beyond making one-to-many calls a breeze. When you use your group communication radio features fully, you'll get the right information to the right people at the right time.

And that can enhance operations ... and group success.