ETSI, with the support of the European Commission (EC), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the Critical Communications Association (TCCA) and the Union Internatinale des Chemins de fer (UIC), organised the FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System) Plugtests event, which took place as a remote-only event from 14th to 18th June 2021.

GSM-R is the current standard for the railway telecommunication services developed and maintained by ETSI TC RT. With the increased need for more throughput, higher capacity and flexible deployment options, FRMCS is being developed based on 3GPP Mission Critical Services.

What were the objectives and scope of this FRMCS Plugtests event?

Interoperability and Mission Critical service harmonisation are critical challenges for the successful deployment and operation of Mobile Communication System for various sectors, including Railways

The concept of Mission Critical Services such as “Mission Critical Push To Talk" (MCPTT), “Mission Critical Data" (MCData) and “Mission Critical Video" (MCVideo) started with 3GPP Release-13 and is ongoing in current Releases. The Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) is based on these Mission Critical Features.

The goal of the FRMCS Plugtests event was to validate the interoperability of a variety of implementations using different test scenarios based on the 3GPP Mission Critical Services framework with focus on the rail specific features, which is also used for Mobile Communication System for Railways. The FRMCS Plugtests event tested railways-oriented capabilities like Functional Aliases, Multi-talker, etc., defined in 3GPP Release-15 and Release-16. This FRMCS Plugtests event was part of the MCX Plugtests programme.

The tests were based on 3GPP, ETSI and IETF standards, and were designed for the following equipment:

  • MCX Application Servers (MCPTT, MCDATA, MCVIDEO)
  • UEs and Cab Radios
  • eMBMS Components
  • IMS / SIP Cores
  • Consoles and Control Rooms
  • Railways Test Equipments

The purpose and scope of the FRMCS Plugtests event were to test independently and jointly all components of the Mobile communication System for Railways. Railway related test cases are available in ETSI TS 103 564. Additional railway-oriented test cases were developed for this Plugtests.

This FRMCS Plugtests event focused on Over-The-Top (OTT) tests via VPN connections from the vendor labs, following the approach used during the pre-test stages in previous MCX Plugtests events and in the MCX#5 Plugtests remote event.

Who could participate?

  • Vendors which develop and produce above mentioned equipment.
  • All vendors must actively participate in the testing
  • Products have to support Rail features and test cases
  • Observers, which can be government organisations, mobile network operators, railways operators, users, agencies or regulators. Observers are welcome to help define the scope (i.e. functionality to be tested) for this event and to evaluate the tests statistics in the TRT (Test Reporting Tool). First time Observers have to sign the Rules of Engagement and NDA of the MCX Plugtests Programme. 

What were the advantages of attending the FRMCS Plugtests event?

  • To assess the level of interoperability of your implementations
  • To validate your understanding of the standards
  • To test with (many) other real implementations and demonstrate end-to-end interoperability
  • To debug your implementation: early bug fixing, saving time and costs
  • To promote the technology and the ecosystem.

The Plugtests Observer Program

The focus of the observer program was to examine the deployment and testing challenges of the Mobile Communication System for Railways.

The observer program provided a platform to the various stake holders in railways in order to discuss the progress of FRMCS. The observer program was held remotely.


All participants had to register to this event even if they participated in previous events part of the MCX Plugtests Programme.

All participants were expected to register individually. Each first person from an organisation to register for the event would be de facto the official contact for technical and logistics matters.

After registration, all participants joining the FRMCS Plugtests were invited to the preparation conference calls and were subscribed to the Plugtests mailing list dedicated to the FRMCS Plugtests event. 

Participants who joined the MCX Plugtests Programme during one of the past MCX Plugtests events were by default remaining on the dedicated mailing list and received invitations to the conference calls on this mailing list. 

The registration deadline was 31 March 2021. Participating companies could contact the ETSI Plugtests team at in order to add colleagues within ther teams after 31 March 2021.

The event was free of charge.

RoE and NDA

By registering for the FRMCS Plugtests event, new participating organisations joined the MCX Plugtests Programme and were asked to sign the Rules of Engagement (RoE) and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which they received upon registration.

These RoE and NDA cover the series of remote and face-to-face Plugtests events which are held as part of the MCX Plugtests Programme.

Companies which previously signed the RoE and NDA of the MCX Plugtests Programme when registering to one of the past MCX Plugtests events, did not need to sign the RoE and NDA again. Only new organisations joining the Programme received the RoE and NDA for signature.

Upon signature of the RoE and NDA sent to the official contact, the new participants received their credentials for the FRMCS Plugtests WIKI. Participants who joined the MCX Plugtests Programme and had already signed the RoE and NDA, kept their credentials which they could reuse for the FRMCS Plugtests WIKI (the MCX-remote-lab).

Participants were not allowed to participate to the event if the RoE and NDA of the Programme were not signed by a representative of their company.

The deadline to return the signed RoE and NDAs to ETSI was 14 April 2021.

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