With the increasing strength of the critical broadband market, there is a need for a formal interoperability testing and certification process to ensure compliance to standards and give end users a seamless service which does not tie them in to one provider. In a major step forward, the Global Certification Forum (GCF)and TCCA have announced a joint taskforce, that will move certification forward for Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT), Mission Critical Data (MCData) and Mission Critical Video (MCVideo) implementations, collectively known as MCX or MCS (Mission Critical Services). The initial actions of the taskforce will be completed during the first half of 2020.
The taskforce, open to members from both GCF and TCCA, currently has support from the following organisations: Airbus, Alea, Anritsu, Dekra, DSB, du, Ericsson, German Federal Agency for Public Safety Digital Radio (BDBOS), ETSI, French Gendarmerie, Frequentis, Huawei, Hytera, IoTAS, Keysight, Leonardo, Motorola Solutions, MultiTech, Nemergent Solutions, Orange, Police Netherlands, Pro-M, Samsung, SmartViser, Sprint, Suomen Erillisverkot, Swissphone, Telecom Italia, UK Home Office, Umlaut, University of the Basque Country, and Zetron.
Without an agreed interoperability testing and certification system in place, each Mission Critical (MC) service provider will have to test all relevant elements and their interactions thoroughly, resulting in the same tests being done for the same elements at multiple locations. This means extra costs to suppliers, operators and users. Beyond that, the vendors may end up implementing different variants of the same products with the corresponding need to maintain them.
The taskforce will look at the following areas: the availability of suitable conformance test equipment for MC products; enabling a certification process to be developed with inputs from the MC vendors, users and operators of MC networks; ensuring end to end interoperability and security of MC products (devices and servers), applications, services and networks, and the management and governance of the joint MC certification.
The mission critical broadband certification process will be an evolution of both TCCA’s unique and highly successful TETRA Interoperability and Certification Process (IOP) which was developed to enable a truly open multi-vendor market for TETRA equipment and systems, and GCF’s certification for 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G devices. A multi-vendor market gives valuable benefits for both the users in terms of a wide portfolio of compatible equipment, competitive pricing and rapid development of new product models; and to the industry in terms of a wider accessible market, faster market take-up and better possibilities for investment in new developments.
“Today’s news confirms the importance of mission critical devices, networks and services as part of GCF’s overall certification programme,” said Lars Nielsen, CEO at GCF. “A device that meets all certification requirements for the technology bands and features it supports, gives confidence that everything possible has been done by the manufacturer to guarantee delivery of the highest quality of service for users. This is of paramount importance within the realms of public safety and we look forward to rolling out the testing and certification specifics with TCCA during the coming year.”
“GCF’s experience and knowledge of the mobile industry, and TCCA’s long-established expertise in critical communications bring complementary strengths together. We look forward to working with GCF to lead the development and implementation of testing and certification processes for the benefit of the mission critical broadband user community worldwide,” said TCCA Chief Executive Tony Gray.
GCF and TCCA have collaborated since February 2017 in order to encourage the use of GCF certified products in MC LTE deployments. In addition, GCF has implemented a new member category ‘Mission Critical Operator’ in anticipation of enabling the operators and authorities of critical communications services to engage with and drive GCF certification in this area.