Independent Lab Requests Funding for P25 CAP Trunked System Testing
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Comments

A Project 25 (P25) Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) lab requested funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to add two more trunked systems to its lab, providing a one-stop shop for interoperability testing.

Compliance Testing, a Mesa, Arizona, facility is a Telecommunications Certification Body (TCB) with the authority to issue certifications for compliance with FCC regulations. The laboratory has specialized in FCC-based testing of LMR equipment for nearly 50 years. In 2009, it was also accredited as a P25 CAP lab.

“We are familiar with the issues associated with P25 testing and the needs of the manufacturers to have their devices tested to be considered interoperable,” said Michael Schafer, president of Compliance Testing.

The lab houses a Codan trunked system. However, devices must be tested to three unique trunked systems to obtain the CAP certification for interoperability. To obtain the certification, vendors must travel to two other labs with trunked systems for testing.

“The logistics and costs associated with this testing are expensive and difficult,” Schafer said.

The eight labs that were formerly accredited include Compliance Testing; EF Johnson Technologies in Irving, Texas; Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications (PSPC) in Lynchburg, Virginia; Motorola ASTRO System Integration & Test Laboratory in Schaumburg, Illinois; Motorola GP25 HEC-PITEC in Schaumburg; Motorola P25 Performance CAI Subscriber Compliance Laboratory in Plantation, Florida; Tait Electronics Teltest Laboratories in Christchurch, New Zealand; and TIMCO Engineering in Newberry, Florida.

Many of the vendor-housed labs conduct testing just a few times a year because of costs, but if a lab housed three different trunked systems, products could be tested at one facility more quickly, Schafer said. Trunked systems cost anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000 each.

“Otherwise these radios are delayed in getting into the hands of these first responders,” he said. “What the industry needs is a one-stop lab, so manufacturers can go to an impartial lab to test products when they need them tested. The type of testing in this industry has been very light so there isn’t a business model for a private lab. Between the cost of a trunking system and the revenue to support it, it isn’t profitable.”

In 2013, DHS Science and Technology (S&T) announced that three accreditation boards (ABs) — American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board and International Accreditation New Zealand — were selected to re-accredit the eight laboratories that test P25 equipment to verify required standards are met. However, the re-accreditation has not yet begun.

“Since 2013, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has been working on a number of fronts to prepare for the transition of accreditation services,” said John Merrill, acting director for DHS Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC). “They have all agreed and signed the accreditation body authorization conditions and criteria agreement. The ABs will conduct inspections of the labs, and they will conduct P25 compliance testing.”

The labs have 12 months to complete the re-evaluation and product retesting process, which is typically broken up into a six-month re-accreditation phase and a six-month recertification phase for P25 products.

“I expect there is likely to be a fallout of one or a few vendor labs that are not prepared or budgeted to handle it,” Schafer said.

Attendees at the March International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) cited the need to add Inter Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) testing to the CAP testing lab offerings. The Compliance Testing one-stop funding request would also speed ISSI testing in addition to other testing for the LMR industry, according to the proposal to DHS. The proposal said there were eight requests for ISSI testing in 2014, according to data obtained from existing manufacturer P25 test labs.

Schafer submitted the Compliance Testing proposal to DHS in June. “We have had informal discussions with Compliance Testing; however, nothing has been finalized,” said Merrill. “We are in the process of reviewing the grant guidelines to determine if this is a viable option and will work closely with the DHS Office of Procurement Operations, Grants and Financial Assistance Division.”

In March, DHS officials said they planned to announce a nomination process for the P25 CAP governance board, and that a new board would be reconstituted within six months. At the June P25 standards meetings, Steve Devine, P25 manager for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, said a Federal Register notice soliciting nominations for membership on the CAP governance board will be published soon.

“It’s our goal to have the governance board established by fall of this year,” Merrill said.

More information on P25 CAP is available here.




 
 
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Comments
On 8/5/15, William Diaz said:
Very interesting note mainly when actions conducting to adding ISSI and CSSI testing to the CAP program are really needed this is an important step to provide an end-to-end interoperability assurance to P25.
However tendency have to be to address both Phase 1 as well to Phase 2. We find the CAP program for P25 Phase 2 is delayed and it will affect the developing of P25.


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