ETSI Readies Report on First MCPTT Plugtest
Wednesday, July 05, 2017 | Comments
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in coming days plans to release a report summarizing results from the first mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) Plugtests event held June 19 – 23. The report will follow preliminary data from the interoperability test sessions for mission-critical Long Term Evolution (LTE) equipment.

For the first session, a test specification was developed for Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 13 MCPTT comprising 47 test cases, 1,000 tests and a success rate of 85 percent. The tests were conducted at the ETSI headquarters in Sophia Antipolis, France, in partnership with the TCCA, drawing 140 participants from 19 vendors.

“We had a higher success rate than we first imagined considering this was a new technology and a new approach,” said Adrian Scrase, ETSI chief technology officer (CTO). “For a first-time event, we were surprised how advanced the vendor community was.”

However, there were 15 percent failures, so the group will focus on those to see why the tests failed. Some of the failures were because of minor errors in the specifications — typographical errors or ambiguities. “The purpose was to understand why there were 15 percent failures,” Scrase said.

Seven government and public-safety network operator organizations from Belgium, Finland, France, Norway and the United Kingdom observed the test sessions. Most ETSI test events do not include observing groups.

“We decided to do that because we’re serving a very high-profile user market, and we thought it would be good to build the confidence,” Scrase said. “That was a conscious decision. The feedback we got from that was very encouraging.”

The tests were based on 3GPP ETSI and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards. As commercial products are developed, the TCCA will implement the vendor certification process for mission-critical products and applications, including MCPTT.

“Our key goal is to have one global standard for MCPTT,” said Phil Kidner, CEO of the TCCA.

The participating companies and tested equipment are as follows:
• MCPTT application servers from Airbus Defence and Space, Alea, Genaker, Harris, Hytera Communications, Nemergent, TASSTA and ZTE Trunking Technology
• MCPTT clients from Airbus, Alea, Armour Communications, Etelm, Frequentis, Funkwerk, Genaker, Harris, Hytera, Nemergent, Spirent, TASSTA and ZTE
• User equipment (UE) from Bittium and Funkwerk
• LTE network components evolved packet core (EPC), evolved Node B (eNodeB) and multimedia broadcast multicast service (eMBMS) from Athonet, Ericsson, Expway, Huawei and one2many
• IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) from Athonet

Noticeably missing from the list of suppliers participating in the event was Motorola Solutions, which is on the team helping AT&T with its contract with the U.S. First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Motorola also won one of the contracts for the U.K. Emergency Services Network (ESN). Motorola Solutions Vice President of Software and Systems Enablement Jeff Spaeth said Motorola’s over-the-top PTT application, WAVE 7000, is being integrated into EE’s network for public-safety users.

A Motorola Solutions spokeswoman said the June tests are the first of several, and the company plans to participate in some future tests. “We are committed to advancing both the standards and technologies needed to extend the reach of public safety’s mission-critical voice and data networks,” she said.

The final tests of the MCPTT Plugtests event included pre-arranged and chat mode group calls, which involved several MCPTT clients, a control room, an LTE cab radio and a TETRA radio.

“This first event demonstrates the commitment of the industry to ensuring that mission-critical LTE equipment adheres to open standards and will be thoroughly tested to ensure complete user confidence once commercial products are available,” said Harald Ludwig, chair of the TCCA’s Technical Forum.

During the trial, Airbus demonstrated that registration, affiliation and chat group calls over LTE were working correctly between the Airbus MCPTT application client and servers from different providers. In addition, Airbus voice calls over LTE were transmitted effectively between the Airbus server and other MCPTT application client suppliers.

“We also successfully performed a multivendor test,” said Eric Davalo, head of strategy, solution portfolio and engineering of secure land communications at Airbus. “Several MCPTT client applications simultaneously exchanged mission-critical group voice calls using the Airbus server.”

Scrase said during the event that “the value of the Plugtests is not only for the vendors in testing their implementations but also in finding issues in the 3GPP specifications, which will be fed back to the 3GPP working groups.”

Supported by the European Commission, these sessions are the first in the world to test the interoperability of MCPTT products and services and were conducted to ensure that equipment from different vendors designed to support mission-critical users will work together.

“MCPTT is the new standard that will drive PMR (professional mobile radio) and is increasingly becoming the key component for critical communications,” said Pierre Minot, president of Etelm. “Etelm has a strong commitment to develop fully standardized solutions, and we announced our collaboration with Nemergent on a MCPTT solution for critical communications over TETRA and LTE earlier this year. This marked the first major step forward for PMR accessibility to multiple technologies on a single unified platform. We are pleased that the solution has performed so well at the first MCPTT Plugtests by successfully interconnecting with all the main players in this market.”

Planned nationwide rollouts in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, South Korea and other Asian countries are expected to trigger significant large-scale investments in mission-critical LTE.

The second MCPTT Plugtest is planned for March 2018.

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