Phil Godfrey is stepping down from his role as chairman of the TETRA + Critical Communications Association (TCCA), a position he has held since 2004. Godfrey answered questions about his successor and the future of TETRA in this interview with Radio Resource International.
How many years have you been at TCCA?
I have actually chaired the association twice. I was one of the founding members of the association in 1994 while working for Philips and was elected chair in 1998 for a three-year period. I was asked to take the position again in 2004 and have been there ever since. To have seen the association grow from the original six members to a thriving organization of 160 members and to see TETRA deployed in more than 135 countries is hugely satisfying and an achievement of all those who have been involved in creating the TETRA standard and promoting the technology worldwide.
How was your successor determined?
During the past few months, the board of the TCCA has undergone a rigorous recruitment process and identified a number of excellent candidates. The board decided that Mladen Vratonjic was their preferred candidate and recommended him to the members at the annual general meeting. Vratonjic was officially named chairman in May. Vratonjic was head of the telecommunications department for the Serbian Ministry of Interior and has many years’ experience in critical communications. He has also been involved with Europe’s Emergency Number Association (EENA) and is well qualified to take over this role.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the chief executive and all the board members who I have worked with during the past 17 years. Our association has a mixture of industry, network operators and users, and we try to maintain that diversity on the board. The willingness of board members to put their company interests to one side and work together to further the interests of our members has made the job a great deal easier.
What is the biggest challenge for TETRA in the short term?
TETRA is not alone in the digital mobile radio marketplace, and much interest has been generated in the possible use of voice over LTE (VoLTE) for critical communications. Indeed, the TCCA is working with the standards makers to help develop these future technologies. However, it is easy to become distracted by potential future solutions. Our biggest challenge, therefore, is to ensure that the mobile radio market continues to recognize that TETRA is the best technology for mission-critical voice and data. We need to keep promoting the technology around the world.
Where do you see the most growth for TETRA?
Overall, the installed base of TETRA terminals has grown by more than 10 percent during the past year. Europe is a relatively mature market for TETRA but there is already evidence of replacement business taking place, with Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands announcing contracts to replace their early TETRA networks with new networks, also based on TETRA. However, Asia and the Americas have significant potential for TETRA, and the association will continue to address these markets. While public safety remains the largest user of TETRA, we find that TETRA is particularly well suited to the transport industry as well with buses, trams, light rail and airports being the most interesting sectors.
How do you view TETRA’s future in North America?
It is a pity that users in North America have been denied access to the technology for so many years, but it is great to see that problem finally resolved, and I am grateful to the FCC for making that happen.
Although late to the market, I see plenty of opportunities outside of public safety as there is no other technology that has TETRA’s functionality, either now or in the foreseeable future. Already some of the major transport companies in the U.S. have adopted TETRA, and it is ideal for utilities, fuel and power companies, mining firms and even the military. Although a great deal of work is going into Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based solutions, we see TETRA continuing to offer a unique capability for many years to come.
How do you plan to enjoy your retirement?
Actually, I am trying to avoid the word retirement as I still feel that I have a contribution to make in the industry. It will be good to slow down a bit though, and I am keen to get my golf handicap down. Photography is a particular interest of mine and one that can be surprisingly time consuming. For the summer months my wife, Jackie, and I have taken up dinghy sailing and have joined a local sailing club so I doubt that I will be short of things to do!