Airwave - Tetra Network Verification
Creating a partnership to deliver 10 years of support within a mission critical environment
Airwave Head of System Integration Anil Patel
comments: “Our partnership with Syntech has helped us improve the way we are able to measure and report network performance and quality of service. This will in turn prove invaluable in meeting the challenges of delivering Airwave to an increasing number of users relying on an ever broader range of voice and data services. Syntech’s technical skills have produced fast design resolutions which continue to match our expectations. The product has proved adaptable for new applications as well as helping us identify areas where network improvements and optimisation could be made. There is no other tool like this in the UK.”
The Department of Health (DH) constantly monitors national performance targets responding to the demands and requirements of patients and the Ambulance Service. A key target is the initial eight minutes response time from receiving a call to arriving at the scene. Meeting this target is critical to saving lives and speeding up the provision of care in life-threatening situations. DH is committed to improving these service levels and constantly looks at all elements in the chain which have the potential to improve performance. One such area is the need to provide fast, accurate and reliable communications whilst mobile. With the introduction of Airwave; a new national digital radio system shared by all three blue-light services, DH needed a means to quantify and assess voice and data performance between the control room operators and personnel in the front-line. Testing end-to-end performance for real-time emergency situations is vital in building confidence with operators and end-users.
The purpose of this case study is to show how entrepreneurial business Syntech Systems is helping a major telecommunications service provider, Airwave Solutions Ltd (formerly O2 Airwave), fulfill a ten year service contract with their customer, the UK Department of Health. The partnership has resulted in Syntech developing a unique and revolutionary product for measuring the end-to-end performance of a network. The case study examines opportunities and challenges related to product development, supply chain partnering and project management in a mission critical environment such as the emergency services.
The choices led to a new partnering agreement between Syntech as product innovators and developers, and Airwave whose national successes as a service provider were proven. Jointly the companies undertook proof of concept and acceptance testing on the Airwave reference system before initial deployment to verify service performance. These early critical stages were successfully delivered by Syntech over a period of a year and Syntech are now following a programme of service delivery involving non-intrusive testing at live static and mobile sites throughout the UK. This approach to benchmarking and comparing different areas of operation will, over time, build into a comprehensive picture of the network’s behaviour and performance.
Within the DH and Ambulance services, comprehensive system performance data was not always readily accessible to central controllers. This affected the ability to set system performance standards in some areas where data had not been previously collected. Up until now testing had only been possible within control room environments under controlled, simulated conditions. The quality standard desired was to accurately assess network performance in real work situations across all parts of the operation, such as making simultaneous voice and data radio calls. They also needed to test the behaviour of high volumes of mobile calls in different traffic and coverage environments.
The service provider undertook an open tender process to attract the best-in-class suppliers to manage a complex and time critical programme of development and implementation. The process involved several months of design specification, development and test before deployment in the field and delivery as part of a ten year service contract. Airwave needed partners who could combine sustained flexibility in technical innovation with proven commercial management skills. The project required multi-disciplinary working relationships between Airwave as the service provider, DH as the end customer and Syntech as the supplier. Above all Airwave required a partner who could develop a solution within a short timescale and deliver a reliable solution for performance measurement and in-life service monitoring to exact tolerances all within an environment of change.
Quentin Armitage, National Implementation Director for the Ambulance Radio Programme
reports: "IFPM has given us greatly improved information on the performance of the service, particularly for data traffic. This has proved invaluable for us to understand current performance as well as helping us to predict the performance that can be expected for new applications that may be introduced over time. The volume and detail of the data collected has meant that issues that were previously unknown or ascribed to poor coverage can now be more thoroughly diagnosed and corrective actions taken. We are planning to use the tool to continue monitoring performance throughout the ten-year contract life.”