Lte | 2021-11-15

MCX Conformance Testing Hits Target to Catalyse Standardised Mission Critical Services Development

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

3GPP compliance is crucial to ensure seamless support for users and avoid costly lock-in to proprietary products and services.

Funded by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Mission Critical Services - Testing as a Service (MCS-TaaSting) project has announced that 60 per cent of mission critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) conformance test cases have been formally verified. This is the trigger required by certification organisations to activate their MCX conformance certification programmes to meet procurement requirements from mission critical operators and users.

A comprehensive certification programme helps to establish a stable market for mission critical services deployment and is essential to ensure that critical broadband devices and services conform to the 3GPP standards. Conformance testing is required to verify the correct operation of key interfaces between devices, and between the device and the mobile network. Field trials are used to complement laboratory testing and witness the device and services behaviour in live multi-vendor commercial networks.

Test case verification is achieved using 3GPP’s RAN5 Working Group’s-defined MCX IPCAN model, the only accepted standards-based process for full verification of MCX test cases. 3GPP defined the Mission Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPTT), MCData and MCVideo services ecosystem – known collectively as either MCS or MCX – and both the industry and end-users have been calling for clear certification programmes that use standardised conformance testing tools in order to accelerate trusted deployments. 3GPP’s RAN5 Working Group works on the specification of conformance testing at the radio interface for the user equipment and defined the test cases to assess the mission critical-related functionality.

Using ETSI’s TTCN-3 language ensures the guidelines designed by 3GPP and certification bodies are followed. These compliance testing processes are widely adopted in the consumer mobile world and typically require the evaluation of the underlying LTE network and associated signalling. In order to adapt those requirements to the needs of mission critical operators and users, the MCX IPCAN model was defined, resulting in significant additional complexity in the tester.

"MCX certification tools and programmes are becoming a reality. We can today provide end users and industry with flexible, ‘pay as you test’ conformance testing tools following exactly the standards certification process,” said Dr. Fidel Liberal, MCS-TaaSting Project Co-ordinator. “It is time for end users to start including conformance certification requirements into their tenders and product acceptance processes, and for industry to integrate conformance testing into their development and delivery processes.”

The formally verified test cases utilise the IPCAN model on the TTCN-3 tester from MCS-TaaSting with components from UPV/EHU, Enensys and GridGears and MCX client from Nemergent Solutions.