TETRA has simple architecture, but it requires custom hardware, and maintenance team needs to inventory more spares. On the other hand, due to network function virtualization, 5G has the majority of the system requirement that are met using cloud or COTS products that makes supporting a private 5G network a less cumbersome activity.
Coverage area may be challenging for TETRA for certain applications like police or fire that require covering a vast area. In such cases, having a captive or private network is a challenge. The challenge in using the existing mobile network has been the availability of channels during emergencies. With the 5G network, along with network slicing, a guaranteed QoS can be given to such services, plus an advantage of wide geographical coverage can also be augmented. This would save users from requiring separate spectrum with TETRA. There are 5G flavors like 5G CBRS and DECT NR+ that can operate in license-exempt band.
Applications in UE (User Equipment)
While TETRA radio handset supports a few applications, developing applications for such system is tedious. On the other hand, it is quite easy to develop applications for a 5G mobile handset working on commonly available operating systems. Moreover, 5G handset/UEs offer better cost benefits than the TETRA radio handset due to economies of scale.
Working with contemporary technologies
Increasingly, the workplace is using technologies like automation, AI, Analytics and IoT. To enable these technologies, a large bandwidth with low latency is required. Even machines used in normal or emergency operations require high bandwidth and low latency to implement automation and AI. Apart from these popular applications, there are a number of scenarios that require two-way video streaming. In such situation, 5G is the inevitable choice.
While both technologies have their advantages, it really depends on the use case. In many of the applications where high baud (bandwidth) rate or low latency is important, 5G has an edge. However, certain applications like underground mines where voice communication is critical and LoS (Line of Sight) is difficult to obtain, TETRA has an edge.
In some cases, 5G and TETRA can both be deployed, and the unified system can be connected at the trunk. In such cases, people would appreciate the option of having both technologies. Some areas can be covered by private 5G while others are serviced by TETRA.
For example, in environments like hospitals, warehouses, oil & gas refineries and airports, where communication happens above the ground surface and data communication is important, it makes sense to use private 5G or hybrid 5G. The handsets are small and mobile users can access all their applications, thanks to 5G technology and the Network Slicing function. In addition, a great advantage of 5G is the ability to hook to any network in case of an emergency. 5G for emergency use, along with automation, AI, Analytics and IoT, make 5G an excellent choice for developers. In the short term, both technologies will coexist. However, in the long run 5G is expected to take over the majority of TETRA traffic.