New Initiative to Accelerate Mission-Critical Broadband Testing
Thursday, April 02, 2020 | Comments

A critical new initiative is underway to accelerate the development and adoption of mission-critical services (MCS) including mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT), mission-critical data (MCData) and mission-critical video (MCVideo) for critical broadband.

The MCS-TaaSting – Mission Critical Testing as a Service project aims to develop an MCS IP-based test engine that will be available via both a cloud service and Long Term Evolution (LTE) hardware for conformance testing of mission-critical applications.

In January, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) division granted more than $6 million to the Mission Critical Voice Test Equipment (PSIAP-MCVTE) initiative. The largest share of the grant, more than $3.5 million, was awarded to the Networking, Quality and Security (NQaS) research group, part of the University of the Basque Country in Spain.

The team is led by Fidel Liberal, PhD, who also led the Mission Critical Open Platform (MCOP) project and has served as technical expert in all four European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) mission-critical services plugtests.

“A lack of certification programs for critical broadband has allowed the misuse of the MCPTT/MCData/MCVideo terms with vendors making ambiguous claims such as ‘Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) aligned,’ ‘MCPTT ready/capable/forward-compatible’ and so on, thus jeopardizing customer confidence,” said Liberal.

“To address these issues, the main objective of the MCS-TaaSting project is to develop flexible testing tools for 3GPP’s MCS standards and associated certification procedures based on complete and accurate RAN5 Technical Specifications and TTCN3 code suite and tester. This will drive the market forward and benefit the entire mission-critical broadband communications ecosystem.”

In traditional mobile-phone testing environments, the device under test is typically bundled in the final product — the whole protocol stack from physical LTE hardware, baseband modem firmware and mobile operating system to application, such as voice over LTE (VoLTE). Therefore, it is usually assembled and certified by a single vendor. This approach cannot be directly applied to MCS testing because most of the times the user equipment (UE) vendor is not the same as the MCS client provider. Mission-critical customers require the MCS provider to be capable of deploying to clients directly, on top of different UEs, with minimal integration effort to increase competition and innovation and to avoid vendor lock-in.

The MCS-TaaSting approach aims to fulfil the specific needs of the mission-critical and public-safety community. MCS-TaaSting will enable cost-efficient frequent testing, retesting, certification and recertification of the myriad and increasing combinations of devices, operating systems, middleware and applications. As a result, it will make it possible for the increasingly heterogeneous industry to prove the 3GPP standard-compliance of their implementations and will reassure users and operators that they are buying certified and interoperable products.

The testing processes will be aligned with existing certifications processes for consumer and professional mobile radio (PMR) equipment from organizations such as the Global Certification Forum (GCF), PCS Type Certification Review Board (PTCRB) and TCCA, which developed and manages the TETRA Interoperability Certification process.

In addition to the university and TCCA, the team includes ENENSYS Technologies, a global designer and manufacturer of professional solutions for the broadcast and telecom industry; GridGears, founded in 2017 with the goal of contributing to public-safety standards, including emergency calling; Nemergent Solutions, with expertise in designing and deploying novel public-safety solutions over mobile broadband technologies; Sonim Technologies, a rugged device maker; Public Safety Technology Alliance (PSTA), a nonprofit coalition with a mission to accelerate the conformance of public-safety technology; and Texas A&M University Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center, a public-safety interoperability facility that hosts public-safety systems including next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1), public-safety broadband, Project 25 (P25) and applications.

More information is here.

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