Mission-Critical PTT Standards Process Moves Forward with OMA Specification
Monday, April 20, 2015 | Comments

The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) completed the Push to Communicate for Public Safety (PCPS), a push-to-talk (PTT) specification for Long Term Evolution (LTE) and is working with the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to integrate it into public-safety LTE standards. The specification is the foundation for mission-critical PTT (MCPTT) for LTE.

PCPS version 1.0 includes PTT requirements, architecture, interfaces and protocol standards. 3GPP asked OMA to release copyrights to PCPS version 1.0, so the LTE standards body can incorporate PCPS into its LTE standards. 3GPP organizational partners are in the process of ratifying a legal agreement adopted by the OMA board April 7, and the agreement could be finalized by the end of the month, said Frank Korinek, OMA board member and Motorola Solutions director of strategy and standards.

The agreement would allow 3GPP to modify PCPS version 1.0 as needed within its standards process. 3GPP plans to add mission-critical PTT into LTE Release 13.

PCPS was developed from OMA’s commercially available PTT over Cellular (PoC) standard, developed at about the same time as LTE Release 8. PCPS version 1.0 includes updates to all underlying interfaces for compatibility with Release 12, including multicast capabilities.

“This copyright agreement will ensure that the specifications for LTE MCPTT get done,” Balazs Bertenyi, 3GPP Service and System Aspects (SA) SA Technical Specification Group (TSG) chairman. “If the stakeholders hadn’t shown the goodwill and enthusiasm that has been in evidence, we could have been facing delays in getting some of the specifications based on OMA PoC ready on time.”

The next step to mission-critical PTT will be to improve PCPS’ latency times for call setup and teardown under the 3GPP umbrella process. LTE Release 13, scheduled to be finalized next year, will start defining the underlying transport layer, service layer and application layer more mission-critical capable. In addition, Release 13 will enhance proximity services or direct mode communications as well as group communications. Work on LTE Release 14 will start this quarter and could include specifications addressing mission-critical video and data for push to communicate.

Both the U.S. First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and U.K. Home Office, which are pushing nationwide public-safety LTE initiatives in their respective countries, are members of OMA as governmental agencies. OMA enhanced its membership last year so all government agencies can join and participate for free.

Government agencies currently have no voting rights in OMA, and the group is looking at expanding what a government agency can do, including having voting rights. Those discussions are just starting, Korinek said.

OMA produces numerous applications and device management standards that public-safety broadband deployments globally could take advantage of, Korinek said. However, there are legal hurdles to governments joining standards organizations. Most standards groups must select one court in the world for arbitration. Being sovereign nations, most countries can’t legally sign IP or membership agreements where they are forced to go to court outside their national domain for arbitration.

“OMA is working through those issues to better equip and enable government agencies to join,” he said. “Some vendors might be leery of it, but Motorola Solutions thinks it’s where public safety and safer cities are going. Connecting all data in a government will be tricky if there are no standards at the application layer. You would have apps that work in New York and not in Chicago. There may be legal considerations but once we get through them, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Additional OMA candidates that could be included in future public-safety broadband standards include OMA’s device management, location, presence and restful application programming interfaces (APIs), Korinek said in a March presentation to the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC).

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