TETRA radio user: 5 reasons you should be interested in MCPTT

Published: 5 Jul 2022
Author: Timo Toikkanen
Reading time: 14 min

TETRA radios are great and mission-critical communications over TETRA provide excellent service. Your operations may depend on certain ways to use radio communications. So, why should you be interested in MCPTT – mission-critical push-to-talk over broadband?

You are probably a seasoned TETRA radio user, satisfied with how things work. You don’t have to concentrate on operating the radio, which means you can focus on your tasks. Yet, there are still five good reasons to look at what a strong smartphone MCPTT app could offer. For example:

1. MCPTT could save you money

2. You can set up less hierarchical communication structures

3. You can get surprising benefits from digitalization and rich data

4. A smart device could be the only communication tool you need to carry

5. MCPTT can work anywhere – even beyond the coverage of your private TETRA network.

First, let’s get a few key terms straight – starting with the abbreviation MCPTT!

What is MCPTT?

TETRA radio users are all familiar with push-to-talk or PTT - push down the push-to-talk key (PTT key) and you can speak to your team.

Mission-critical push-to-talk, or MCPTT usually refers to push-to-talk over broadband. MCX (sometimes referred to as push-to-x) communication on smart devices can include all kinds of information in addition to voice: video, multimedia, files, status, text, or location information.
Using PTT and MCPTT, one person can reach a group of people with a single button press. This avoids the need to make several telephone calls and saves a lot of time - sometimes even lives.
These are the key characteristics of push-to-talk with radios:

  • Purpose-built. The radio communication systems are designed and built for mission-critical group communications. They offer many features that meet very specific user needs.
  • Hierarchical. Hierarchical information flow is important. People in the field report upwards in the organizations and orders flow down the command chain.
  • The communication is between people. (Human-to-human communication)
  • TETRA radios. People carry special radio devices, which they use only for talking or for short text and status messages.
  • Some networks may offer limited coverage. Radios operate within a network’s boundaries. Many networks cover only a limited area, such as a city, an industrial site, or an airport.

How do TETRA radios and MCPTT over broadband compare?

Why choose smartphones and MCPTT over broadband? Strong MCPTT services on smart devices can offer several benefits compared to TETRA radios:

  • Flexibility. Instead of being a specific system, strong MCPTT is a service that works on top of broadband networks.
  • Hierarchies are only an option. Strong MCPTT solutions allow information to flow in different directions. This ensures people can collaborate more flexibly.
  • Non-human team members. People can use strong MCPTT to interact with machines or IT systems. Teams can also get help from Artificial Intelligence solutions.
  • Smart devices. People will use smart devices capable of handling rich data. On these devices, MCX gives professional smartphone users reliable access to voice, video, multimedia and location information.
  • Can work anywhere. MCPTT can work wherever there is broadband network coverage. People can be in touch from outside its boundaries – even from another country.

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Let’s take a closer look at the five reasons why a TETRA radio user should be interested in MCPTT.

1. You can get flexibility – and save money

What makes strong MCPTT so flexible?

Strong MCPTT is a service that works on top of broadband networks - it does not necessarily need new network elements or physical hardware. From the user’s point of view, it is a smartphone app.

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Strong MCPTT solutions can be offered as Software as a Service (SaaS). If your company or organization has a robust data centre, you can run the MCPTT SaaS on top of that. Again, no separate hardware is needed for your critical communications.

The teams may be able to use commercial off-the-shelf smart devices and accessories, which saves money.

The service is less expensive to scale up, too. If you need to serve more users, just purchase more licences. In contrast, a TETRA system may require more base stations to serve your growing workforce.

2. It is easy to set up less hierarchical communication structures

Information flowing up and down the organization is an important way of communicating. However, it is good to have options.

A hierarchical organization may need to cooperate with a group of volunteers, for example. The volunteers may find it easier to exchange information in a less formal way. A strong MCPTT app on their smartphones will let them do that. Even though the volunteers may use the app to communicate more freely, it connects them to the hierarchical organization.

Yet, the strong MCPTT app will provide autonomy and security for every organization.

3. You can get some surprising benefits from digitalization and rich data

Digital processes use data and digital communications can be a part of these processes. Work can become smarter and more effective.

For example, law enforcement can use data and automation to combat crime. Officers can use data from many sources from wherever they are. Thanks to this and seamless communications over broadband, the police can do much more while on the move. This makes many routine tasks much easier.

All this will improve the safety of the people they protect and serve.

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Enterprises can get big benefits from humans working with machines or IT systems. This can help increase automation and improve efficiency. For example:

  • Instead of operators who monitor sensors and alert people when needed, the data can automatically generate alarms in the app.
  • A factory could monitor itself and request assistance over the push to talk app when it needs help from humans!
  • What if a factory, or certain pieces of equipment, or some sensors could be “part of the team”? – the team could include not only people, but also the relevant smart objects!
  • If something life-threatening happens – a gas leak, for example – sensors can send messages to people who need to take action. They can also alert other people to get out of the danger zone. The strong MCPTT app can also track these people. You will know who is in the area solving the problem. You will also know who are safely out of the area.

4. A smart device could be your only communication tool

Why should you choose a smart device? Your TETRA radio is your trusted tool for communications – especially for voice communications. If it serves all your needs, you do not have to switch to a new type of device. But if your work does not require much talking, a strong MCPTT app on a smartphone is a good choice. Especially if the app allows you to communicate seamlessly in TETRA talk groups.


These are six great reasons to consider a smartphone with MCPTT:

With the right MCPTT app, your smartphone will work the same way as a TETRA radio. For example, if the teams use status messages in a certain way, the same messages will work in the same way in the app.

The right MCPTT app on your smartphone will let you communicate smoothly with radio users. It will work with existing applications. And the end-to-end service will be excellent.

The right MCPTT app takes advantage of smartphone capabilities – for example, the voice quality can be amazing! Real-time video on the smartphone display can complement the spoken information, too.

You can choose a future-proof MCPTT push to talk solution such as Tactilon Agnet. It offers a full set of multimedia features. It also gets regular software updates.

With multimedia features, you can use different forms of data. Your team can use more than just voice communications.

You only need to carry one device. If you have to use a smartphone for work, you could just use the MCPTT. In this way, you can avoid carrying a TETRA radio, too.

5. MCPTT can work anywhere

What is the operating area of a MCPTT service?

The operating area of a MCPTT service depends on the solution. It will also depend on your organization’s mobile subscriptions. For example, Tactilon Agnet will give you access to broadband services. These can provide coverage over a specific region and even around the world.

Consider the operating area of push-to-talk over TETRA. Public safety networks may cover the whole country. However, most networks provide coverage over a limited area.

A MCPTT service can give better coverage because it can be available over any IP network. It will even work abroad.

The MCPTT app can work wherever there is commercial mobile network coverage. TETRA radios will only work on your site. Not everyone needs to be physically present on site but they can still communicate. For example, supervisors can oversee and manage field personnel no matter where they are.

Talk groups can also match locations – so that whoever is within a certain geographical area will be part of the same conversation.

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Examples of strong MCPTT services

A smartphone with a simple walkie-talkie function may be useful, but it is not the same as mission-critical push-to-talk. Professionals need strong MCPTT services that can do much more.

For example:

  • MCPTT. Advanced push-to-talk over broadband. Private voice calls.
  • MCData. Secure messaging and collaboration. It is possible to use data from third-party systems.
  • MCVideo. Video calls, sharing of video streams.
  • Lifeguard. The advanced man-down feature for lone workers.
  • Emergency call. One-key call for help in an emergency. This call gets the highest priority.
  • Location tracking in real time.
  • Workflow management.

Special solutions for personnel safety

Sometimes things go wrong and every second counts. By pressing the red emergency key on your smart device or the emergency button on the strong MCPTT app, you can alert help without a delay. If you are isolated or alone, the lifeguard function will automatically send an alert if you fall down.

The control centre has your positioning and status data - it knows where you are and which tasks you are working on. Help will get to you faster.

If you need a strong MCPTT solution that offers all of the above, take a look at Tactilon Agnet.

The new opportunities

Police officers, firefighters, and teams working for enterprises use radios to talk to their team members and dispatchers. However, these devices have limited data capabilities.

Rich and abundant data can make a real difference in day-to-day operations, on the street, at an accident site or at a fire. This data allows organizations to change and improve the way they work. Today’s operations are based on talking with colleagues. With broadband data, operations can also use data such as video.

MCPTT over broadband allows different organizations to work together – they can communicate and collaborate even more easily and efficiently than before.

Adding a strong MCPTT solution to complement your TETRA communications can help you adopt mission-critical broadband. Have you thought about the whole journey? This white paper gives you a great starting point. Download “How to plan your migration from TETRA to 4G/5G mission critical broadband” white paper:

Cover - How to plan your migration from TETRA to 4G/5G white paper

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The Mission Is Critical blog gives you insights into professional and public safety broadband, mission critical user experience, secure and critical communications, hybrid narrowband-broadband solutions and dual-mode devices, and Tetrapol and TETRA radios.