BC Hydro Executive Answers Questions about Planned TETRA Network

MissionCritical Communications spoke with Telecommunications Manager Adam French at BC Hydro, which last week announced it will build the first fully operational TETRA system in North America, to get details on the procurement process and the utility’s plans for TETRA technology.

What was BC Hydro examining during the TETRA trial conducted in 2009?
We conducted a trial of TETRA in 2009 to gain an opportunity for a hands-on evaluation of the technology. Our trial included a two-site installation and allowed our field crews, engineers and support personnel to test the system.
After the trial, BC Hydro released a request for proposals (RFP) for a new digital radio system. What other technologies were considered?
We released the RFP for a digital mobile radio system for the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia. The RFP was requirements based and was not prescriptive of the technology required to meet those requirements. We left the door open for Project 25 (P25), Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), TETRA and iDEN solutions to bid and allowed for the option for proponents to bid service-based solutions.
Why was the PowerTrunk/SMi team awarded the contract?
Based on our RFP requirements, the PowerTrunk/SMi proposal had the highest evaluation score, meeting all of our mandatory requirements and providing the best value solution for BC Hydro’s needs.
This system will be the first fully operational TETRA system in North America. Did that affect the decision-making process?
Although this system is set to be the first operational deployment of TETRA in North America, we required all bidders to provide proof and references of at least three previous large-scale deployments of their technology. The TETRA technology has large-scale utility deployments worldwide, and any concerns we may have had regarding the ability of PowerTrunk/SMi to provide, deploy and support international mobile radio implementations were more than amply addressed. We are particularly excited about some of the advanced safety and security features of the radios, the implementation of the PowerTrunk CeCoCo dispatch consoles in our control centers and the potential of implementing data applications.
What is the timeline for deployment and implementation?
We are completing system design and will start deployment of 18 – 22 base stations in a two-phased approach. We are planning to have the system fully implemented in a large part of our coverage area by October 2012. Depending on the final coverage area, about 450 – 600 users will use the system. The system will operate on frequencies in the UHF 400 MHz band.
Will data applications be used?
We are evaluating the opportunities to use the data capabilities of the system, including short message service (SMS), email integration and location-based services.
Click here to read more about the contract announced last week.

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