3GPP Release 15 to Tackle LMR-to-LTE Interworking
Monday, July 31, 2017 | Comments
Standards for mission-critical features within Long Term Evolution (LTE) continue to move forward with the partial completion of Release 14 in June and the addition of work on an LMR-to-LTE interworking standard in Release 15.

Mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT), included in Release 13, was a major step forward last year.

Release 14 adds more mission-critical services and enhancements including enhancements to MCPTT, mission-critical data and video, and a general framework to facilitate standardizing additional mission-critical services. The majority of the mission-critical services in Release 14 are set to be completed by September with the remaining features in Release 15 due to be completed in June 2018.

“The mission-critical services introduced in Release 14 offer stand-alone functionality that enriches the existing base of mission-critical services,” said an article on the 3GPP website. “The set of features included was carefully chosen so that implementers need not have to wait for the completion of additional standardized functionality in Release 15. The Release 14 mission-critical video and data specifications therefore offer equipment vendors, as well as network operators, a consistent and fully specified set of standards, ready for initial implementation and deployment.”

In addition, Release 15 work is underway with the inclusion of the first of two phases of 5G standards, and Release 16 will encompass phase two of 5G. Releases 15 and 16 will contain extensions to the LTE standards as well, said Andy Thiessen, division chief at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), during a National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) meeting call.

“All the underlying [mission-critical] service support enablers are in place [in Release 14],” said Thiessen. “One main area of work in Release 15 is looking at the insertion of more dynamic policy control capability inside the 5G standards. Rather than doing a piecemeal approach for public safety, this would allow for a comprehensive standards-based approach.”

SA6, the working group within 3GPP that defines specifications for critical communications, will begin creating the standards to allow LMR to LTE interworking in Release 15. The group will define an interface to allow other technologies to plug into MCPTT to operate from a system-to-system perspective. MCPTT will be able to connect to other technologies such as TETRA, Project 25 (P25) and other digital radio protocols, Thiessen said.

A study item on two-way radio and LTE interworking capabilities was submitted to SA6 in 2016.

SA6 work was also expanded to allow for non-public-safety mission-critical communications standards. “This is very good,” Thiessen said. “It will allow other industries to look at the standards we’ve created. The railroad community in Europe is re-using public-safety standards work, and others are expected. SA6 expansion will allow for other commercial interests.”

The 3GPP website said Release 15 could include interconnection between 3GPP-defined mission-critical systems and interworking between the 3GPP-defined mission-critical system and legacy systems for voice and short data service. Mission-critical service requirements from railway and maritime industries also will be considered, along with multimedia broadcast multicast service (MBMS) application programming interfaces (APIs) for mission-critical services.

Conformance test standards for mission-critical services are also being developed within 3GPP. The initial set of test specifications on conformance testing for Release 13 MCPTT is expected to be available by the end of 2017. Subsequently, conformance test specifications for Releases 14 and 15 feature sets will be developed.

The 3GPP article on mission-critical services is here.

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