PSCR Releases $12M Funding Opportunity for MCPTT Testing
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | Comments

To close the gap between first responder needs and test equipment development, Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) is launching the 2019 NIST Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program - Mission Critical Voice Test Equipment funding opportunity, with budgeted federal funding of $12 million.

Public-safety personnel need push-to-talk (PTT) applications to make regular smartphone use under strenuous conditions a reality. Meanwhile, PTT features on mobile broadband devices cannot be tested and honed for public-safety purposes in the ongoing absence of suitable test equipment and code, the group said.

PSCR is seeking applications from nonfederal entities to produce equipment and code required to test communications devices for mission-critical push-to-talk technology (MCPTT) and related public-safety features. Award recipients will help achieve this goal by producing test equipment and associated code that supports the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)-created test cases for MCPTT, mission-critical data (MCData) and mission-critical video (MCVideo). Outputs of this funding opportunity will enable the industry testing labs to start testing public-safety features.

Dereck Orr, PSCR division chief, said the PSCR effort differs from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) MPCTT Plugtests events, which focus on interoperability. The PSCR notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) focuses on standards conformance.

“The 3GPP reference standards are a fairly new type of standard for 3GPP, and there are many interpretations that can be made on how to implement the mission-critical services features,” Orr said. “For example, there were two main interpretations on how to perform authentication for MCPTT, and these two interpretations were not compatible. During the various Plugtests events, the industry came to a consensus on a direction to take.

“The PSCR NOFO, on the other hand, focuses on implementation of the conformance test specifications in the 3GPP TS 36.579 family. Conformance is a first step in the overall testing process. Once a device or app can obtain conformance compliance, then it can move on to interoperability and carrier acceptance-type testing. Unlike interoperability testing, conformance testing requires test equipment that supports the standardized test cases. Currently, there is no test equipment that supported MCPTT, MCVideo, and MCData conformance test cases. Because of this, the conformance step in the testing process is not being executed. The goal of the PSCR NOFO is to fill the void of test equipment capability in the industry.”

Applications are due July 19. Contact with the subject line "MCVTE."

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