Event report: the future of mission critical broadband

The Global Certification Forum’s head of certification, IoT & verticals, Asif Hamidullah, reports from the organisation’s recent mission critical services workshop, held in collaboration with TCCA.
Event report: the future of mission critical broadband
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The Global Certification Forum’s head of certification, IoT & verticals, Asif Hamidullah, reports from the organisation’s recent mission critical services workshop, held in collaboration with TCCA.

During TCCA’s latest Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG) Plenary and Broadband Industry Group (BIG) meetings, the Global Certification Forum Ltd and TCCA held the first joint mission critical services workshop. 

This performed a deep dive of the certification programme in development for MCS products. It took place in November, at Motorola Solutions’ premises in Krakow. 

There were more than 37 participants from industry, including public safety users, operators and authorities, mobile network operators, device manufacturers, test platform vendors, and test labs. There were also invited guests from other industry alliances, such as the US Department of Homeland Security and the 450 MHz Alliance.

The workshop produced thought provoking discussions, to understand the essence of mission critical device certification and to discuss the key issues the mission critical industry is facing today.

Topics covered included the key aspects of what defines mission critical services and how this differs from traditional mobile cellular communications, such as the use of differentiated quality of service. Discussions around the needs and expectations required from a testing and certification perspective also took place. 

A detailed overview was given of the GCF MCS product certification process covering both conformance testing and field trials testing, as well as the latest status shared regarding the readiness for activation of the certification process.

Public safety operators were able to provide insights into their needs, requirements and plans for offering mission critical services to their users. Manufacturers provided their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities with bringing products and solutions to market. 

Feedback from test platform vendors on validation of test platforms for certification, as well as adoption and offering of testing services from the test lab community were also discussed.

Overall, many key takeaways were captured. These included the importance of ongoing collaboration within the industry to go on collectively resolving identified issues, and to ensure that end-to-end system level service functionality with the right KPIs are achieved. 

The importance of procuring certified products for mission critical services will be necessary to meet these system level requirements. Both the GCF and TCCA are committed to ensuring that mission critical services and solutions follow industry standards as defined by 3GPP. 

Global cooperation between different regions will be a must to ensure there are economies of scale and minimal fragmentation in the way services are offered around the world. This will be especially important for cross-border operations between different authorities where mission critical services play a key role in saving lives.

Based on this successful workshop, GCF and TCCA are planning to host a second joint workshop taking place on 31 January and 1 February this year, at the University of Malaga, Spain. 

During this, the team will recap the key discussions and outcomes of the previous workshop, as well as exploring a number of new topics. This will include providing an overview of end-to-end mission critical systems, understanding the latest status of the certification programme, and looking at additional testing practices such as interoperability and performance testing of products and services. 

The meeting will help define the next phase of the certification programme roadmap, as MCS evolves from 4G to 5G, server-side certification, interworking with non-terrestrial networks, and device to device communications. 

The workshop is expected to draw attendance from key stakeholders of the mission critical communications community. This includes public safety operators and authorities, device vendors, MCX client suppliers, MCX network suppliers, MNOs, test platform vendors, test houses, industry alliances, and others.

The MCS workshop is being co-located with TCCA's Legal and Regulatory Working Group (LRWG) meeting. A special joint session will take place between the two groups on 31 January to discuss and understand the needs and requirements from a procurement perspective, to ensure certified products and solutions are entering the market. 

The workshop is open to all GCF and TCCA members, as well as invited guests. (Interested parties can request to register for the workshop by contacting mcs@globalcertificationforum.org).

To learn more about the Mission Critical Services certification programme - or join the MCS workstream -, click here, or contact GCF on the email above.

More information about the workshop can be found here.

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