FirstNet Releases Device Certification Process
Monday, April 04, 2016 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) released information on its vision for approving wireless mobile devices to operate on the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

In the future, FirstNet will work with industry to develop device types and applications to meet public-safety use cases identified by public-safety users, said Kameron Behnam, FirstNet device test and certification manager in a blog. FirstNet devices and applications will undergo a variety of testing and certification in areas such as interference, operation, environmental factors and security.

All major commercial mobile network operators (MNOs) have device approval processes in place before they offer a device. The process includes FCC RF emission levels verification and commercial carrier acceptance, including conformance to the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications. 3GPP conformance is typically handled through the PCS Type Certification Review Board (PTCRB) or the Global Certification Forum (GCF).

Additional test phases for carrier acceptance testing often include the following items:

• Safe for network (SFN) — Initial lab and field testing to verify device quality prior to entering detailed carrier acceptance test phase
• Lab tests — Testing on network simulation platforms and lab infrastructure setups to verify functionality in a controlled environment
• Field tests — Field testing of devices in locations providing each deployed infrastructure configuration
• Interoperability Tests — Testing between the device and the network in both lab and field environments

FirstNet envisions its device approval process to be similar to that of the commercial MNOs, with an additional component — FirstNet carrier acceptance. FirstNet’s carrier acceptance process will ensure that a device containing Long Term Evolution (LTE) band 14 meets 3GPP specifications and public-safety specific requirements. FirstNet is leveraging the PTCRB to ensure devices equipped with band 14 support meet the 3GPP specifications and are interoperable per the CTIA LTE interoperability test plan.

Behnam said FirstNet plans to have its own carrier acceptance test plan that focuses on validating a device is safe for use on the band 14 network, testing device features unique to public safety, and testing performance aspects of band 14 that are above and beyond the 3GPP and other specifications. Examples of features unique to public safety include direct mode, proximity services and mission-critical push to talk (PTT).

The FirstNet legislation states that the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in consultation with FirstNet and the FCC, will ensure the development of a list of certified devices and components. To satisfy this section of the act post contract award, FirstNet envisions supplying an updated list and supporting information to NIST on a periodic basis or whenever a new device is considered an approved device.

In addition, the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program and FirstNet will continue to maintain a strong relationship, with PSCR focusing on forward-looking research, standards, metrology and technology development, while FirstNet’s focus will be building and operating the NPSBN. This relationship will be leveraged in the development of FirstNet’s device approval process.

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