The advances in the standardisation of critical broadband, and the increasing adoption of 4G/LTE-based services by critical users, are catalysing the requirement for interoperability certification.
As demonstrated by the success of TCCA’s TETRA Interoperability Certification process (IOP), this approach ensures an open and competitive market with multi-vendor supply. TCCA has published a white paper outlining the requirements, the current status and the steps needed to be taken within the sector to create a process to certify mission critical broadband solutions.
A multi-vendor market gives benefits both to the users in terms of the broadest product portfolio of compatible equipment, competitive pricing and rapid entry of new product models; and to the industry in terms of a wider accessible market, faster market take-up and better directed investment in new product developments.
The TETRA world has a very successful Interoperability Process and that is what many future
Mission critical broadband users not only expect, but need assurance that critical broadband products are interoperable and certified as an important prerequisite for a truly mission critical service. In order to meet this crucial requirement, various initiatives such as the ETSI Plugtests™, conformance testing, and software and product interoperability testing are needed.
Users and service providers require products to conform to 3GPP standards, and need to be able to procure functions and features in a multi-vendor business environment where products are interoperable.
Jeppe Jepsen, TCCA Board co-Vice Chair and Director of Broadband Spectrum, and driver of the white paper, said: “TCCA’s TETRA IOP has been running successfully for more than 20 years, and will continue to do so. The IOP environment for critical broadband however is very different, as the hardware and software are separated – both on the infrastructure and on devices. This means different business models and new complexities that the sector will need to negotiate, and we encourage all interested parties to offer their support.”
Today’s narrowband networks in use by critical users are highly specified private networks that are built for purpose. A mission critical broadband solution using a commercial service requires a mission critical radio network (4G/LTE or 5G) that is capable of a very high degree of availability, priority, pre-emption, trusted security and extensive coverage – in other words a hardened network. Once that is in place, MCX services (MCPTT, MCVIDEO and MCDATA) can be added to the radio network.
MCX services can in principle be provided on a radio network that is not hardened – but the service is then not mission critical. The paper outlines what can be certified by a TCCA process and what needs to be certified by each individual service provider.
TCCA and the Global Certification Forum (GCF) have agreed a joint task force that during the six months from January to June 2020 will move the MCX certification forward. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has granted funding to facilitate certification. TCCA member The University of the Basque Country has, in collaboration with TCCA and others, been chosen to develop a test simulator over the next two years.