GCF Announces Plans to Certify Critical Communications LTE Devices
Thursday, January 25, 2018 | Comments

The Global Certification Forum (GCF) is extending its certification scheme to critical communications devices. GCF’s Steering Group (SG) approved a new work item covering mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) over Long Term Evolution (LTE) in December.

The required test cases are expected to be finalized by Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) RAN5 during the first quarter, paving the way for MCPTT device certification to start later in the year. RAN5 works on the specification of conformance testing at the radio interface (Uu) for user equipment (UE).

In response to demand from public-safety authorities for access to secure wireless broadband communications, 3GPP is developing specifications to deliver a variety of mission-critical capabilities over LTE networks.

MCPTT provides enhanced voice-based push-to-talk communication based on the 3GPP evolved packet system (EPS), leveraging group communication system enablers (GCSE) and proximity-based services (ProSe). It is part of Release 13 of the 3GPP specifications. The functionality will find applications across public safety, utilities, transportation and other commercial sectors.

The ability to demonstrate that devices conform to this standard will be of critical importance to all potential users, especially public-safety authorities.

“Mission-critical use cases highlight the fundamental importance of device conformance and interoperability,” said Lars Nielsen, general manager of GCF. “We have been providing a clear and easily accessible scheme for the certification of LTE devices since 2010. As the globally accepted quality mark for establishing confidence in interoperability, GCF is ideally placed to support the adoption of mission-critical LTE by public-safety authorities.”

Mission-critical video over LTE and mission-critical data over LTE were standardized within Release 14, while further enhancements are being developed for Release 15. These additional features could also be brought within the scope of GCF certification in response to requests from GCF members.

Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) structures are being considered for several national, regional and municipal critical communications services that are being deployed on dedicated public-safety and/or commercial LTE networks. GCF extended its membership categories to include MVNOs, which will make certification accessible to MVNOs including public-safety network operators.

A memorandum of understanding between GCF and TCCA commits the two organizations to work together in the interest of their respective members in areas related to 3GPP mission-critical services.

“While TCCA acted as the certification authority for TETRA devices, we recognize that LTE is a more complex environment,” said Harald Ludwig, TCCA technical forum chair. “GCF has already accumulated significant relevant expertise that allows manufacturers to demonstrate that their devices satisfy the demanding requirements of mission-critical users.”

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