6 Benefits of TETRA for The Bermuda Ministry of National Security
Bermuda is a British island, 21 miles long by 1 ½ miles wide located approximately 650 miles off the east coast of the United States. Nestled in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, It is a popular vacation resort and cruise destination, hosting a number of cruise lines on a daily basis. Recognized sporting events such as World Soccer, the US PGA, and cricket visit Bermuda as it provides a mild comfortable climate, year round. In 2017, the 35th America’s Cup was also hosted by the Bermudian Government.
Inhabited by a maximum of 65,000 residents, Bermuda is made up of many diverse radio users with very different needs. The Bermuda Ministry of National Security, ( MoNS) consists of Government, Public Safety, First Response (Fire Rescue), The Bermudian Regiment (Military), Customs, Airport Authority, Department of Corrections, Maritime Operations, “IT” Security Forces, and various other non-public safety departments.
Bermuda’s economy is based on worldwide banking, insurance, and reinsurance, as well as tourism. Bermuda is the insurance headquarters for many local and offshore insurance companies making it an intensely sensitive business community. Because of its size and location, Bermuda presents a national security concern for its MoNS and ongoing commerce.
Due to its location, Bermuda’s Maritime Operations Center serves as first response for much of the Northern Atlantic when called upon by vessels in distress. The employment of multiple technologies and constant monitoring of shipping traffic allows the waters of Bermuda to remain safe for passage, especially for its cruise and supply industry.
The MoNS had been using an older analog, radio network on the island that fell short of meeting the needs of the Government’s operations. It had been in operation for over 20 years and was no longer providing the level of communications and interoperability necessary to support the changing needs of law enforcement and first responders. The voice only system was no longer being supported by its manufacturer and parts were becoming difficult to obtain. The system was hosted by a local dealer on the island and was being leased for service by the MoNS under a long term contract. A review of the MoNS national radio communications system and interoperability was required in 2017. The MoNS hired a consulting firm to analyze and conduct an island-wide study of their current and future needs for all radio user personnel in Bermuda, as well as to explore how data services could be incorporated into a solution.
The MoNS hired a consulting firm to analyze and conduct an island-wide study of their current and future needs for all radio user personnel in Bermuda, as well as to explore how data services could be incorporated into a solution. The MoNS expressed an interest in a solution that provided an easy bridge to broadband services and how it may compliment their new solution once broadband technologies mature. Several of the critical users on the island were using disparate systems that could not communicate with one another and coordination of resources became increasing more difficult as a result. Although being isolated in the North Atlantic dictated a different definition of interoperability, the need for a globally recognized standard was mandatory in case international assistance was necessary.
GIS and location data was not available with their existing solution, so coordination of resources was becoming more difficult, and with deficiencies in coverage area, Public Safety and First Response was getting more and more difficult to manage.
Weather conditions also present a unique challenge to radio users in Bermuda. Strong winds associated with frequent thunder storms or hurricanes were constantly misaligning microwave dishes and causing interruptions in service. A more reliable solution had to be secured.
The MoNS had been spending 2 million dollars per year for leased access to the previous system. The MoNS calculated a 60% savings year over year by moving to their own system.
In early 2019, the MoNS entered into a contract with ECL Communications Limited, a local integrator on the island and secure partner with PowerTrunk, Inc. PowerTrunk’s TETRA solution was awarded by the Government to completely replace the island-wide radio communications network. The system consists of 6 UHF TETRA sites with redundant backhaul and site connectivity. It further offers complete redundancy for all functionality including command and control consoles for Police, Fire, and Maritime Operations. TETRA technology was chosen because it provides Bermuda an open standard, spectrally-efficient, and fault-resistant radio technology that supports simultaneous voice and data services for all subscribers on the system. The integration of TETRA with CAD/AVL applications, voice quality, and data capacity represent an outstanding improvement to the Bermudian users.
Improvements in coverage areas, audio clarity, and GPS fleet management for Public Safety and First Responders takes the management ability to a new level. Each subscriber radio is equipped with internal GPS and reports positioning within the same network. The implementation of a single system allows a level of interoperability never before realized.
As a part of the total solution, PowerTrunk and ECL are also providing and installing the first 4 sites of an LTE/Broadband system for initial testing of complimentary services for Public Safety once broadband products mature. Band 14 in 700 MHz was selected as it will allow for interoperability in the future if decided.
Tetra technology presents radio functionality to Bermuda never before used in their previous system. One-to-one private calls, emergency calls, full duplex telephone-like calls, text messages, status messages, and a host of custom applications are available across the entire system.
- For the first time, Bermuda has the ability to communicate across all departments on a single interoperable radio network.
- Dispatchers have the ability to see resources on a GIS mapping application, both on the island and in coastal waters.
- Waterproof subscriber units allows radio users to operate in all weather conditions.
- Crisp, loud audio in a ruggedized hand held radio allows users to hear radio calls much easier in high stress situations.
- The global TETRA open standard also allows for multiple vendor involvement with guaranteed interoperability.
- The LTE capability allows for growth as broadband technology advances. Bermuda is now ready for the future.