TETRA Vendor Receives FCC Type Approval, Motorola Backtracks

PowerTrunk, a Spain-based manufacturer that sells two-way radio equipment in North America, received FCC and Industry Canada type approvals for a TETRA base station. However, a Motorola official said the approvals are only one consideration for TETRA deployment in North America.

The FCC and Industry Canada granted authorization for the PowerTrunk BSR75 base station radio/repeater for the 800 MHz and 450-470 MHz bands. Timco Engineering in Florida, which performs compliance testing services for the FCC and Industry Canada, issued the certifications for each agency.

“What we are doing is modifying the TETRA modulation to comply with emission masks,” said Jose Manuel Martin Espinosa, executive vice president and chief operating officer for PowerTrunk. “There is no practical loss of performance or very small, less than 1 dB, in power, but the functionality is still the same.”

Last month, the TETRA Association filed a request for waiver of Sections 90.209, 90.210 and 2.1043 of the FCC rules to allow TETRA technology to be used in the United States. “PowerTrunk supports the waiver request from the TETRA Association to the FCC, but since there are uncertainties about how long such a process might take … we consider that users shall not wait because type approval for the adapted version of TETRA is available already. Equipment can be software updated in the future if the waiver is granted,” Espinosa said.

TETRA is deployed worldwide with the exception of North America. “Timco is one of our telecommunications certification bodies, which means it does have the expertise and the jurisdiction and authority to certify equipment, so that anything that has been certified by them is the same as if it is certified by us,” said Bruce Romano, a spokesman for the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology. “So yes, it would be legal to be sold in the U.S. with a certification granted by Timco.”

In a recent letter, a Motorola executive said that the FCC and Industry Canada certifications aren’t enough to allow the technology to be offered in North America. A November letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) from Mike Kraus, Motorola licensing director, said, “Type approval is only one consideration for TETRA deployment in North America.”

At a June Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) meeting, Chuck Jackson, Motorola Sales and Service Inc. (MSSI) vice president and director of system operations, said if all the technical and spectrum-related issues are worked out, Motorola wouldn’t prohibit the technology’s use in North America. However, he said there must be a technical document put together among the vendors describing how TETRA will be developed in the U.S. market.

“It would appear that the information forwarded to you concerning statements made by Motorola at the UTC convention is at best incomplete and taken out of context,” said the Nov. 20 letter from Motorola’s Kraus to John Phillips, ETSI GA chairman. “Motorola’s position on the availability of TETRA licenses for North America remains unchanged from earlier statements on file with ETSI … Motorola believes that the right course of action is for an accredited standards body in North America to work on transposing the TETRA standard and make any modifications needed to permit its use in compliance with regulatory requirements. The standards transposition process takes into account the needs of the proposed users of the technology, as well as the constraints imposed by the regulator to avoid interference in the allocated frequency band.”

As a result of the discussions at the latest ETSI General Assembly held Nov. 24-25, where Motorola representatives verbally confirmed its position outlined in the letter, ETSI officials asked the TETRA Association whether its members that seek intellectual property rights (IPRs) licenses in North America can follow the route proposed by Motorola. “If the response is negative and no other acceptable solution emerges in a timely fashion, ETSI will activate the final stage of its procedures concerning cases of nonavailability of licenses — Article 8.2 (v) of the ETSI IPR Policy — which is to request the European Commission to see what further action may be appropriate,” said Paul Reid, ETSI spokesman.

PowerTrunk’s Espinosa said it is offering a platform for North America that is P25 compliant and can be software upgraded to the TETRA platform when IPR issues have been resolved. Some vendor executives have said TETRA IPRs expire in 2012. Neither Motorola nor ETSI officials could confirm when TETRA IPRs expire.

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