Sophia Antipolis, 26 June 2017

TCCA to deliver vendor certification process for LTE mission-critical products and applications

The first ETSI Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT) PlugtestsTM event – interoperability test sessions for mission-critical LTE equipment – concluded on Friday, 23 June 2017, with 140 participants from 19 vendors.

The event was held at the ETSI headquarters in Sophia Antipolis, France, in partnership with the TCCA, the representative body for the global critical communications community. The test sessions were observed by seven government and public safety network operator organizations from Belgium, Finland, France, Norway and the UK.

More than 1000 tests were conducted, with a success rate of 85%. The tests are based on 3GPP, ETSI and IETF standards. For this first session, a test specification has been developed for the 3GPP Release 13 MCPTT, comprising 47 test cases.

As commercial products are developed, the TCCA will implement the vendor certification process for mission-critical products and applications, including MCPTT. “Our key goal is to have one global standard for MCPTT,” said Phil Kidner, CEO of the TCCA.

The participating companies and tested equipment are as follows:

  • MCPTT Application Servers from Airbus, Alea, Genaker, Harris Corporation, Hytera, Nemergent, TASSTA and ZTE
  • MCPTT Clients from Airbus, Alea, Armour Communications, Etelm (included in TETRA Base Station), Frequentis (included in Control Room), Funkwerk, Genaker, Harris Corporation, Hytera, Nemergent, Spirent, TASSTA and ZTE
  • User Equipment (UE) from Bittium and Funkwerk
  • LTE network components Evolved Packet Core (EPC), Evolved Node B (eNB) and Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS) from Athonet, Ericsson, Expway, Huawei and one2many
  • IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) from Athonet

The final tests of the MCPTT Plugtests event included pre-arranged and chat mode Group Calls, which involved several MCPTT clients, a Control Room, a LTE cab radio and a TETRA radio.

This first event demonstrates the commitment of the industry to ensuring that mission-critical LTE equipment adheres to open standards and will be thoroughly tested to ensure complete user confidence once commercial products are available,” said Harald Ludwig, chair of the TCCA’s Technical Forum.

Adrian Scrase, ETSI CTO, said during the event that “the value of the Plugtests is not only for the vendors in testing their implementations, but also in finding issues in the 3GPP specifications, which will be fed back to the 3GPP working groups.”

Supported by the European Commission, these sessions are the first in the world to test the interoperability of MCPTT products and services, and are conducted to ensure that equipment from different vendors designed to support mission-critical users will work together. The full report on these Plugtests will be posted on the ETSI website in due course. The next MCPTT Plugtests sessions are planned for Q2 2018.

Push-to-Talk (PTT) is a standard feature of narrowband Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) technologies developed specifically for mission-critical communications. PTT enables near instantaneous group communications – a critical requirement in an emergency situation. To ensure that such capability is built in to LTE services, 3GPP has been catalyzed by the work of the TCCA to ensure that LTE supports mission-critical communications, with MCPTT now specified in 3GPP Release 13.

Although the PMR market shows no signs of slowing, mission-critical broadband LTE will offer complementary capabilities, and its market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20 per cent, from $1.1 billion in 2015 to $2.6 billion in 2020, according to IHS Markit. Planned nationwide rollouts in the United States, South Korea, the UK, the Middle East and Asian countries are expected to trigger significant large-scale investments in mission-critical LTE.