The Global Certification Forum (GCF) is extending its certification scheme to critical communications devices. A new 'work item' covering Mission Critical Push-to-Talk over LTE (MCPTT) was approved by GCF's Steering Group (SG) in December.

The required test cases are expected to be finalised by 3GPP RAN5 during Q1 2018, paving the way for MCPTT device certification to start later in the year.

Mission Critical Video over LTE and Mission Critical Data over LTE have already been standardised within Release 14 while further enhancements are being developed for Release 15. These additional features could also be brought within the scope of GCF Certification in response to requests from GCF members.

A Memorandum of Understanding between GCF and the TCCA has recently been updated committing the two organisations to work together in the interest of their respective members in areas related to 3GPP Mission Critical Services.

Welcoming the approval of the MCPTT work item Harald Ludwig, chair of the TCCA’s Technical Forum said: “While TCCA acted as the certification authority for TETRA devices, we recognise that LTE is a more complex environment. GCF has already accumulated significant relevant expertise that allows manufacturers to demonstrate that their devices satisfy the demanding requirements of mission critical users.”

“Mission critical use cases highlight the fundamental importance of device conformance and interoperability,” said Lars Nielsen, General Manager of GCF. “We have been providing a clear and easily accessible scheme for the certification of LTE devices since 2010. As the globally accepted quality mark for establishing confidence in interoperability, GCF is ideally placed to support the adoption of mission critical LTE by public safety authorities.”

MCPTT provides enhanced voice-based push-to-talk communication based on the 3GPP Evolved Packet System (EPS), leveraging Group Communication System Enablers (GCSE) and Proximity based Services (ProSe). It is part of Release 13 of the 3GPP specifications. The functionality will find applications across public safety, utilities, transportation and other commercial sectors.

The ability to demonstrate that devices conform to this standard will be of critical importance to all potential users, especially public safety authorities.

MVNO organisational structures are being considered for several national, regional and municipal critical communications services that are being deployed on dedicated public safety and/or commercial LTE networks. GCF has extended its membership categories to include MVNOs which will make certification accessible to MVNOs including public safety network operators.

Author: Sam Fenwick