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O2 Airwave lies to support ‘success’ of TETRA


Have you read this in your Police newsletter, or elsewhere?

‘Security for the Olympic Games in Athens was managed on Tetra, as was the emergency response to the Madrid bomb in March. Closer to home, the advantages of digital communication became evident during the August floods in Cornwall. The area around Boscastle is renowned for poor radio and mobile phone reception, but O2 was able to respond to an urgent request for help and set up a temporary network. Former Chief Inspector Dennis Calver, of Devon and Cornwall POlice said: “Communication within the area had been extremely poor during the first day. Within 24 hours handsets were in use and officers were amazed to find they had crystal clear transmision and reception.”’

Your impression?

No doubt you think TETRA has saved the day? You have probably heard that Airwave saves lives with the one ambulance Trust that uses Airwave? Well, that’s what O2 would have you think. But let’s find out the truth.

It is actually surprising that O2 Airwave has to clutch at such straws, when it claims that TETRA networks, like Airwave in the UK, are installed thoughout Europe! In fact they are not.

What really happened

It is true that the Olympic games Large System Integrator in Athens selected Tetra, but the technology was used in a very localised area. It was the main Private Mobile Radio (PMR) system that was up and running during the Games.

In Madrid, the Tetrapol SIRDEE system was the emergency service’s communications system, and whilst a TETRA system was used by one minor service, too many dropped calls rendered it ineffective.

At Boscastle, the real rescue effort was nothing to do with radios: it was hands on humanitarian mucking-in. By the time it came to cleaning up, O2 had enabled police to use Airwave handsets with an existing temporary (synonym for erected without permission) mast, and set a guard on the mast site overnight ‘to ensure the system was resilient’ (!) OK, so they were impressed with crystal clear voice, obviously; but that doesn’t make TETRA a safe long-term prospect for users. And this was just a show put on by O2 to impress.

And the ambulance Trust saving lives? They have enhanced their capability not with better response times, not with better radio communications, but by using the Airwave mast system to hop onto the Internet to transfer instrument data. Not an endorsement for TETRA handsets or Airwave as a complete emergency system.

Tetrapol mast, Switzerland
Tetrapol mast in Switzerland

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