News, views and contacts from the global telecommunications industry

TETRA Radio System, Isle of Man, United Kingdom

Key Data

Following a competitive tender process, Simoco Digital Systems (SDS) was awarded a turnkey contract to supply a TETRA radio system for the Isle of Man Government by 2003.


The contract is worth in excess of $9.3 million. The agreement specification called for complete island coverage down to hand portable level, and this was coupled with the exacting requirements of resilience and availability. This meant that a total of 21 radio sites would be used. To meet strict planning and environmental controls, existing radio sites were to be used where possible. Of these, three were newly built and others were redevelopments of existing facilities. There will be 1,600 new terminals on the network. Associated with the turnkey contract is the provision of an extensive maintenance and support package specific to the requirements of the Isle of Man.


The TETRA solution offers a range of services for different types of mobile radio application, including national private or public trunked networks, local area communications at a single site, and advanced direct mode communications. In particular the system offers a two way communication, a duplex or half duplex mobile base call, individual calls, group call, acknowledged group call, broadcast call, encrypted mode for any service, call authorisation by dispatcher, access priority, priority and pre-emptive priority call, late entry to call in progress, discreet and ambience listening, and dynamic group number assignment.

The digital private mobile radio - with duplex telephony, extensive text messaging and advanced mobile data capability, together with secure encryption - are provided in a single solution.


TETRA digital mobile radio is considered to be able to provide a number of benefits like improved speech quality under all signal conditions, high quality reception over wide areas, professional strength digital encryption and fast reliable connections. It also allows data to be transmitted at up to 28.8Kbps (kilobits per second), supporting high-speed image transmission and the development of advanced network services.


Responding to European wide-radio communication changes, designed to bring harmonisation to public safety radio frequencies, the Isle of Man commission evaluated alternatives to the island mobile radio systems, which had a planned obsolescence date of 2003. Following an initial feasibility study, the decision was taken that any new system should use TETRA technology. This initial study identified that only TETRA was able to meet the requirements of the emergency services and the other diverse user groups. The authorities considered TETRA as the best system in that it is an open, non-proprietary standard and is compatible with proposed changes for the rest of the British Isles and Europe.

The island commission carried out a detailed design and feasibility study in 1998. This included the issue of a competitive tender for an in-depth coverage study to determine how the coverage requirements of the island's emergency services could be achieved. Independent of the award of the main contract, this initial contract was also awarded to Simoco Digital Systems.

Sixteen different government user departments including emergency services, government utilities and other public safety organisations will use the new system. The system will also be used for maritime purposes within the island territorial waters.


The contract award and expenditure programme was approved in December 2000. The project should be fully operational by 2003.


The Commission appointed Mason Communications as overall project consultants and technical advisers. Simoco Digital Systems was selected as preferred supplier for TETRA infrastructure, terminals and peripherals.