Speaking with a united voice

During his quarter of a century anniversary year, TCCA Board vice chair Tero Pesonen talks about his 25 years working with the organisation, and his hopes for CCW 2023 in Helsinki

Could you tell me about your professional background and the early part of your career?

As an electrical engineering student, in 1997 I was offered the opportunity to write my Master’s thesis on TETRA for Nokia. It was an exciting time, as almost weekly, new capabilities and features were introduced.

While TETRA clearly offered substantial benefits in terms of security, clarity of voice and functionality following the fragmentation of MPT-1327 technology, the lack of interoperability was a great concern. I was tasked to drive multivendor co-operation and common implementation towards interoperability certification.

How did you become involved with TCCA, and what have been your activities with the organisation? What has been your most important achievement so far?

My first interaction with TCCA and the global critical communications community was at the very first TETRA World Congress, held in Berlin in 1998. I remember reaching out to colleagues in other companies to participate in TETRA interoperability discussions, then hosted by Tele Danmark.

These discussions led to the process that resulted in the creation of TETRA interoperability profile [TIP] specifications as well as TETRA interoperability [IOP] testing and certification. Around that time, TCCA’s Technical Forum [TF] – the longest-established open TCCA Working Group – was also founded. This was to bring all TETRA stakeholders together to prioritise the huge technical work, as well as to find consensus on how different features should work.

This has proven to be a success. TETRA is today a global multivendor, interoperable standard providing critical communication service around the world.

I served in the TF for many years, leading subprojects such as contracting an independent certification body for the TETRA IOP process, as well as supporting TCCA outreach programmes around the world. In parallel I worked closely with many user organisations developing ever more efficient, and typically more data-oriented, ways of working.

I was first elected to TCCA’s Board in 2010, and again in 2016 representing Erillisverkot. I have been chair of TCCA’s Critical Communications Broadband Group [CCBG] since 2014.

In terms of important achievements, I am most proud of the development of the TETRA IOP process, which remains a gold standard today. I am also proud of the growth of the CCBG and the work it undertakes in helping to ensure that users will be able to depend on and trust critical broadband networks and services.

However, these achievements are not mine alone. I have the privilege to work with likeminded, committed people from end-user and industry organisations. Success is in the co-operation.

As chair of TCCA’s Critical Communications Broadband Group, what are the key aspects of the group’s work?

A constant and key theme is to address challenges in how to use broadband in a critical way in praxis. This clearly involves continuous work in 3GPP for advancing the standard capabilities, and deep co-operation with the Global Certification Forum to achieve a certification scheme for mission-critical service features.

A topical work item has been the formation of TCCA’s position for the World Radio Conference 23 on future mobile communication spectrum. In CCBG, taskforce topics such as how to reduce the complexity of device and applications testing, and how to manage mission-critical video, are in progress. On the other hand, questions around how to operationally run broadband networks, how to ensure coverage and power supply – as well as cyber security – are rising rapidly.

Critical Communications World 2023 is being held in Helsinki. As someone from Finland, why is it beneficial that the event is located there?

I find it remarkable that alongside Finland, also Denmark, Estonia, Norway and Sweden are committed to be the host operators and contribute to the event. Each of these countries is an advanced TETRA user with significant experience in how to operate across borders.

Now, they all are working diligently with their plans to benefit from critical broadband services. At the same time, they are paving the way for others in a very co-operative way. I believe this alone is a great reason to participate in CCW 2023.

As a bonus, Helsinki as a city is easily accessible, compact enough to get around easily and the time of the year is really well suited with long, dry, sunny days. In fact, it is certainly worth taking a couple of extra days to explore the city and the country.

What do you think will be the key issues being addressed at CCW next May? How will the critical communications landscape have altered since this year’s Vienna event?

The Russian war against Ukraine has given rise to questions related to energy supply and availability. Cyber resilience is a hot topic. In parallel, we will gain increasingly in-depth experiences from the forerunners on narrowband migration and the use of broadband services. We’ll see new products and, most importantly, operational concepts in how to benefit from information-centric operations.

What is the key thing you hope will be achieved in Helsinki?

Without doubt, the interaction of participants around the world for common goals and priorities. The critical communications sector is niche compared to the consumer – or even to the enterprise – markets.

We need to have a united voice as well as seek common ground with other related verticals, such as autonomous vehicles. This is how our mission for safer, more secure societies moves forward. Success in co-operation.

To continue the conversation join us at Critical Communications Network - the new online community for the sector