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).
*collectively known as MCS or MCX
Meet the team
The Networking, Quality and Security (NQaS) research group, is part of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), a teaching and research institution officially founded in 1980. The University employs over 7.500 people in 31 faculties and schools, with more than 57.000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The NQaS research team has long experience in managing international R&D projects, specially on Mission Critical and 5G networks.
ENENSYS Technologies is a global designer and manufacturer of innovative professional solutions for the Broadcast and Telecom industry. For 15 years, ENENSYS Technologies has enabled Efficient Media Delivery over Terrestrial (ATSC 3.0, DVB-T/T2, ISDB-T/Tb, HbbTV…), Satellite (DVB-S/S2/S2X) & Telecom Networks (4G/5G, Public Safety, IPTV, OTT, ), and provides Test & Monitoring equipment with the TestTree brand.
GridGears was founded in 2017 with the goal of contributing to Public Safety standards, including Mission Critical Services and Next Generation standards such as NG112 and NG-911. The company fully recognizes the necessity and benefits of standard based solutions and their validation in order to establish highly efficient, interconnected and interoperable services in Public Safety.
Nemergent Solutions SL has significant expertise in designing and deploying novel Public Safety solutions over mobile broadband technologies, with an agile development team with vast experience in broadband technologies. Nemergent’s portfolio includes a complete and fully standard MCS ecosystem. The server-side components are designed as VNFs, fostering flexible deployments. The innovation-driven nature of the company promotes the establishment of research links with different UE, IMS and telco equipment leading companies.
The Public Safety Technology Alliance (PSTA), comprised of telecommunications industry, public safety, and technology leaders, is a nonprofit coalition with a mission to accelerate the conformance of technology that is both open and standards compliant to ensure public safety has a safe, secure and interoperable framework for the next generation of communications tools by guiding the implementation and testing of technical specifications requirements for applications, handsets, connected devices, cloud applications and storage that will be used by the first responder community.
Sonim Technologies is a leading U.S. provider of ultra-rugged mobility solutions designed specifically for task workers in mission-critical roles and specialized in workforce-critical communication and connectivity tools for industrial enterprises and public sector agencies including construction, energy and utility, hospitality, logistics, manufacturing, public safety and transportation. Sonim solutions comprise (1) ultra-rugged mobile devices, (2) industrial-grade accessories and (3) cloud-based software and application services. The company based in US, offers its solutions through the world’s leading mobile carriers.
TCCA established and continues to manage the world-leading interoperability testing process (IOP) for TETRA terminals and infrastructure. Currently celebrating 25 years of advancing critical communications, TCCA has evolved to drive the development of common global standards and certification for the critical broadband ecosystem while continuing to maintain and enhance the TETRA standard. TCCA owns and produces the annual Critical Communications World event, taking place this year from 3-5 November in Madrid.
The Texas A&M University Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC) is one of the leading public safety interoperability facilities in the world. The Center hosts a complete set of public safety systems including NG 9-1-1, public safety broadband (FirstNet), P25 and applications such as situation awareness, computer aided dispatch, video surveillance and others. Texas A&M University System received $8 million in 2019 to develop a 5G testbed which will support public safety, defense and transportation.
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