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NZ’s First Commercial Digi Two way Radio Service

Airwaves launches New Zealand’s first commercial digital two way radio service

TETRA-based network delivers enhanced radio features

Network operator Airwaves Limited today unveiled New Zealand’s first commercial fully digital two-way radio service. Based on TETRA, an international mobile radio and two-way communications standard, the service combines the ruggedness, security and reliability of radio communications with enhanced features such as telephony, messaging and GPS tracking, giving emergency workers, contractors and other mobile work forces secure, comprehensive communications solutions.

TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is a mobile radio and two-way communications standard, used by government agencies, emergency services and commercial enterprises in 88 countries. TETRA terminals are group calling and point-to-point radios as well as having mobile telephony, with a direct connection to the PSTN (public switched telephone network).

“We selected TETRA for our Airwaves’ network because the standard is widely supported by manufacturers worldwide,” says William Waterworth, director of Airwaves. “Moreover it is truly versatile, bringing together mobile telephony, mobile radio and mobile data, meaning we can provide organisations with a comprehensive communications solution.”

In telephony mode TETRA handsets can be used to connect users to both landlines and mobile phones. They can send and receive SMS, pictures and other data. Group calling mode allows users to have virtually instantaneous communication among a number of users, this is especially important in environments where dispatch and safety considerations are paramount. It’s also possible to use the terminal in individual mode which provides discrete one to one communication over the Airwaves network. Emergency buttons on the terminals mean users can communicate an emergency to a group of radio users, an individual radio user or even a telephone or cellular phone. Emergency communications take precedence over other normal communications.

Secure, robust, resilient equipment and systems

Airwaves network is fully IP-based, utilising Teltronic NEBULA infrastructure. It is fully TETRA compliant and offers both half and full duplex radio communications. It works with the PSTN (meaning users can make calls to mobile phones and other telephones) the internet and the network also has an SMS gateway (meaning users can text to cellphones) and GPS functionality. All traffic has a standard level of digital encryption, and has the ability to utilise enhanced encryption and end-to-end (military standard) encryption.

Airwaves will initially provide Auckland-wide network coverage, and plans to roll out to major cities as well as major transport corridors.

“We’re targeting organisations needing one-to-one and one-to-many communications,” says Waterworth. “We are seeing interest in TETRA from local governments, passenger and cargo transportation services, utility companies and manufacturing and production sites, and even trade contractor services.”

Airwaves directors William Waterworth and David Wall have almost 40 years experience in the telecommunications industry between them. Waterworth launched the first TETRA network in Australia (2006) as General Manager of Zeon Digital, a Motorola owned and operated network.


The network supports all TETRA compliant terminals with the initial offering being from Teltronic and Sepura, both of which have built-in GPS functionality.

Sepura handsets are the lightest and smallest TETRA hand-held radios, offering the greatest range of terminals and have a stay alive feature to ensure calls are not dropped when batteries are changed, they also offer the largest text, colour displays, and the most accurate GPS in a hand-held TETRA radio. In April 2007, Sepura won first place in an independent review of TETRA radio models by Korea’s 119 Magazine.


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