Participants Ready for MCPTT Interoperability Event in Texas This Month
Friday, June 15, 2018 | Comments

Representatives from 30 global telecommunications companies will join dozens of observers from U.S. state and federal agencies, as well as international participants, to test public-safety communications and related technologies during the second international Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT) Plugtests event set for June 25 – 29 at Disaster City on the Texas A&M University (TAMU) campus in College Station, USA.

Hosted by the Texas A&M Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC), the event is organized by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in partnership with TCCA, the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) division of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the European Commission.

“The goal of this series of Plugtests is to ensure one global standard for mission-critical services and improve the interoperability for the future deployments,” said Saurav Arora, project manager at ETSI. “This event will help vendors evaluate their equipment interoperability and understand 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) standards. Testing will also allow them to check if their equipment is designed to support mission-critical users when used in combination, whether the crisis is local or global in nature.”

The Texas MCPTT Plugtests will be the first to test public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) and the interoperability of MCPTT products and services outside of Europe. Many U.S. agencies are scheduled to participate, along with local law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel, and additional Texas A&M-based emergency response teams. International representatives from Belgium, Canada, Norway, France, Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom will join as well.

The weeklong exercise in Texas represents the culmination of months of remote pre-testing. The participants are using a test plan with more than 100 test cases, including mission-critical data (MC Data) and mission-critical video (MC Video) tests, as well as MCPTT voice test. More than 500 interoperability-related combinations of participating vendors and components are possible and will be under review at Disaster City. ITEC Director Walt Magnussen, PhD, said that public-safety-related services in the United States generally rely on two existing communications networks: LMR, which has been used for the past 70 years, and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), used exclusively for public safety.

The common factor in this Plugtests session, regardless of case, companies or technologies involved, is MCPTT, a standard feature of narrowband professional mobile radio (PMR) technologies, developed by 3GPP specifically for mission-critical 4G and 5G communications. Because MCPTT enables near-instantaneous group communications, it is a critical requirement in an emergency situation and related LTE equipment, not to mention a lucrative investment.

“Mission-critical LTE is the first broadband technology that will be used worldwide by public-safety users,” said Harald Ludwig, TCCA Technical Forum chairman. “Hosting the second MCPTT Plugtests in the U.S., after having had the first in Europe, shows the global approach. Interoperability between agencies and between countries can only be achieved with standards-based technologies.”

The first MCPTT Plugtests event was held last June in France.

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