P25 Vendors Continue Interoperability Tests with CAP Transition Underway
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | Comments

Consultants and end users were encouraged to continue to demand interoperability verification by Project 25 (P25) suppliers during a recent symposium.

Although the federally run Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) has stalled in recent years, vendors are performing their own interoperability tests, and the tools to verify P25 interoperability beyond what CAP verifies and tests are available, said industry insiders.

Six P25 manufacturers — Airbus DS Communications, Avtec, Eventide, Exacom, Tait Communications and Zetron — sponsored the Aug. 3 symposium focused on the benefits of multivendor networks. The symposium targeted consultants, who can help educate and design procurements for public-safety officials.

“Consultants could help the process by using the P25 process/standards and the test procedures for conformance, performance and interoperability,” said James Downes, P25 Steering Committee chair. “They are all published and agreed to by the manufacturers. If an RFP (request for proposals) is put on the street, the user community can specify applicable test procedures to ensure they’re P25 compliant. Don’t wait for CAP to happen. It is there now and can be used effectively. I encourage the consultants to become familiar with them.”

Interoperability Testing (IOT) is an Airbus DS Communications (formerly Cassidian Communications)-defined set of tests that go beyond CAP testing, said Marty Christensen, Airbus DS Communications product area business manager.

IOT includes multiple test cases for P25 interfaces, including 168 test cases for subscriber units, 180 test cases for consoles and 29 test cases for voice logging recorders. Christensen said that in CAP tests, three tests are performed for group voice call (granted, denied and request queued), while the IOT group call testing includes 14 tests, for example.

Tait Communications maintains the only accredited CAP lab outside the United States in Christchurch, New Zealand. Darek Wieczorek, a principal consultant for Tait, said the firm supports all interoperability efforts for P25 infrastructure and terminals.

“Tait continues to participate within CAP as it re-emerges,” he said. “In the meantime, Tait will use its own lab, Teltest, and other available means to ensure interoperability.”

Tait radios are approved for use on about 15 major networks in the country. The company is not waiting for the formal CAP program to begin testing P25 Phase 2; instead the firm is already performing Phase 2 testing in its labs.

“We are testing Phase 2 radios on other vendors’ labs and preparing to perform the testing on live systems, starting with non-mission-critical applications,” Wieczorek said. “We’re moving on a mission-critical network (commercial contract) after successful beta tests.”

Tait is planning commercial release of P25 Phase 2 subscriber units in October.

Downes said consultants should be aware that the P25 statement of requirements (SoR) is a reference but it is not part of the standard. “The SoR has not been addressed in the standard,” he said. “Beware of using the SOR as a requirement.”

The P25 Technology Interest Group (PTIG) is putting together a document with layman’s terms of what is in the standard and what the capabilities are, Downes said.

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