A critical new initiative is under way 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 project, entitled MCS-TaaSting – Mission Critical Testing as a Service – aims to develop an MCS IP-based test engine that will be available via both a cloud service and LTE hardware for the conformance testing of mission critical applications.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) division has 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.
The team is led by Dr. Fidel Liberal, a well-recognized expert working in different mission critical communications and 5G related R&D projects including Mission Critical Open Platform (MCOP). He has also served as technical expert in all four ETSI MCX Plugtests™. Liberal’s team at the University of the Basque Country is supported by leading organisations in critical communications; industry associations and testing experts including ENENSYS Technologies, GridGears, Nemergent Solutions, PSTA, Sonim, TCCA and Texas A&M University
“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 ‘3GPP aligned’, ‘MCPTT ready/capable/forward-compatible’ and so on, thus jeopardising 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 VoLTE). Therefore, it is usually assembled and certified by a single vendor.
This approach cannot be directly applied to MCS testing since 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 innovative 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, re-testing, certification and re-certification of the myriad and increasing combinations of devices, operating systems, middlewares 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 PMR equipment from organizations such as the GCF (Global Certification Forum), PTCRB and TCCA, which developed and manages the world-leading TETRA Interoperability Certification process (IOP).