TETRA has arrived in the Americas, bringing the guarantee of secure voice services alongside data services and applications that offer new efficiencies to Mission Critical Users. This year it has been used to ensure safety and security during the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
IIR recently interviewed, Andy Schwartz, Director of Radio Communications, New Jersey Transit on his experiences of using TETRA during the Superbowl.
IIR: How has the TETRA Network for New Jersey Transit developed in the last year?
AS: Since the past year, we have added over 1500 subscribers to our system and are operating throughout the State of New Jersey along our bus and light rail routes. We continue to add base station sites as part of our initial project and are looking to expand coverage to serve the needs of our radio system users.
IIR: What were the challenges in preparing the network, services and users for the Super Bowl 2014?
AS: The Super Bowl was a large undertaking. For radio coverage, there was significant coordination required between all local, state, and national level agencies participating in event along with the NFL. In addition to developing an incident communications plan, public safety frequencies had to be coordinated with the NFL who handles coordination for all non-public safety users, both domestic and international, who were planning on using radio at event. NJ TRANSIT went to the FCC with a request for Special Temporary Authorization using frequencies identified by our consultant for use at three major transit hubs serving the Super Bowl event. The FCC was very helpful and quickly granted our request for a two-week period centered around the date of the game. The final challenge was securing backhaul to connect our TETRA base stations to the core. We used a variety of methods including in-house fiber, microwave, and leased circuits.
IIR: How did you develop indoor coverage for the event?
AS: Indoor coverage was required at three major transit hubs where people coming to the game using mass transit would pass through. The locations, Penn Station New York, Port Authority Bus Terminal, and Secaucus Transfer Station, are large, multi-level facilities. NJ TRANSIT placed customer service ambassadors at these locations and needed a mission-critical way to communicate with these people as cell phone service could not be relied upon in an emergency. NJ TRANSIT used small, single-carrier, low power base stations to directly feed indoor antennas and/or fiber-based distributed antenna systems that utilized existing in-building fiber cable. Using basic RF principles and portable radios, NJ TRANSIT was able to quickly determine where antennas should be located and whether they should be directly fed from base station(s) or through the DAS system. Coverage and voice quality were excellent.
IIR: What has been the key lesson learned during the further implementation in the last year?
AS: The key lesson is that site acquisition is a major critical path item to building our system – or any system when additional sites are required. The identification of new sites is a balancing exercise of schedule vs. design vs. cost. Proper site location is key to achieving the desired coverage, capacity, and voice quality objectives. It also impacts your choice of backhaul. Leasing fiber/copper vs. building a microwave hop impart different requirements on siting that also have to be considered.
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