Reliable TETRA radio communications in Turin, Italy - control room

Case study: Protezione Civile in Italy

How Turin stays connected with never a break


Perfect reliability was a requirement when Turin Municipality in Italy needed a new digital communications system. After looking at the options, Turin chose a TETRA system from Airbus Defence and Space.

This has proven a good choice: since 2008, the system has never been a single second out of service.

Prepared for disasters

Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region in Italy and it has a population of about 1,000,000. This is a volcanic area, and the Civil Protection and Transmission Department of the Turin Municipality wanted a reliable radio comms solution. When people need help and evacuation, coordinating the operations via radio is vital.

“There was an earthquake in a neighbouring municipality, which uses a different system. When Turin people went to give them support, they could not introduce their radios into the system. It clearly was not working,” says Dr Sergio Zaccaria, a former Director in the Civil Protection and Transmission Department.

“According to our information, our system is by far the most stable and most seamless in Italy,” says Dr Zaccaria. “We tested three vendors’ TETRA systems before making our final choice. I remember very well that we chose this system because the tests proved this was the most reliable.”

“It has not suffered a single second out of service since 2008”.

Easy to adopt

When the radio services were introduced to the users, it did not take long before the previous analogue system became completely redundant. Users easily adopted the new system because it worked so well.

For example, it was much easier to define talk groups than before.

A huge benefit is the interoperability between organisations: people can communicate across organisational borders when operations require this. Even when operations do not span several organisations, communications within the organisation are completely autonomous and private.

Skiing in Turin Olympics in 2006

First success in 2006

Turin was the host city of the 2006 Winter Games. The police and the event organizers needed the latest communication technology to help ensure that the event ran smoothly.

The city’s Olympic committee (TOROC) chose to use the network for its own secure communications and local police also decided to join for the duration of the event.

The police were keen to use this TETRA system because it gave them a virtual private network. Several organizations could share the use of the same network infrastructure and maintain total privacy from one another.

Success led to adoption

The experiences during the Winter Games were so positive that the municipality chose to extend the network to cover Turin’s urban area.

Around 3,000 users are connected to the network from organizations such as:

  • Municipal police
  • Transport staff
  • Garbage collection personnel
  • Local fire brigade.

Today, the network provided by Airbus Defence and Space comprises two DXT-series switches and 12 TB3 base stations.

“In fact, our organization was the field test pilot for the TB3 when it was first introduced to the markets,” says Dr Zaccaria.

The new administration scheme in Italy means that big cities such as Turin will become metropolitan areas. Communications are key to ensuring that co-operation and co-ordination works throughout the metropolis, and with the secure radio system provided by Cassidian, the Civil Protection department is ready for this change.

Plans for the near future include extending the network’s coverage further to beyond the first suburban ring.

Dr. Zaccaria concludes: “We were proud to be the first in Italy to deploy this TETRA technology and provide the Turin Municipality with a radio communication network that represented from the very beginning a completely new generation compared to the outdated analogue radio systems that were in use at the time.”

Turin Winter Games – some figures

  • 14 days of Winter Games in 2006
  • 7,000 TETRA radios in use
  • 6,000 calls every 15 minutes

In spite of the heavy workload, the TETRA system kept the civil authorities and the event’s organisers in touch without any major hiccups.

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