Lte | 2019-11-22

Bittium, Athonet, Nemergent and MCOP Successfully Tested Multi-vendor End-to-End Ciphered Mission Critical Push-To-Talk Calls

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

The test took place during the fourth MCX (collectively for MCPTT, MCVideo and MCData services) Plugtests™ that were organised by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in Kuopio, Finland

Bittium, Athonet, Nemergent and the Mission Critical Open Platform (MCOP) project have successfully tested multi-vendor end-to-end ciphered Mission Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPTT) call. Secure multi-vendor communications are one of the keystones in open standards, enabling mission-critical communications over private and public networks. The test took place during the fourth MCX (collectively for MCPTT, MCVideo and MCData services) Plugtests™ that were organised by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in Kuopio, Finland. The Plugtest series is the first independent testing of public safety and other mission critical LTE, and the tests are essential to ensure seamless access to mission critical services over 4G networks across different vendors' products and implementation. The tests also provide essential feedback to 3GPP Working Groups on mission critical communication specifications.

The test for end-to-end multi-vendor secured MCPTT calls over mission critical grade LTE included MCOP's SIM-based authentication, setting up security associations using IPsec between Bittium Tough Mobile 2 as the user equipment and Athonet's IP Multimedia System (IMS) core, and Nemergent's MCPTT standardised key exchange, authentication, service authorisation, and ciphering mechanisms. In order to have a fully end-to-end secure solution, the different vendors demonstrated interoperability at all the nodes involved in the communications chain (UE, LTE, IMS, KMS, IdMS, CMS, GMS, AS) and at the different 3GPP-defined message exchange protocols.

By using fully 3GPP Release 14/15 compliant mechanisms, the MCX user initially exchanged keying information and certificates with the Key Management System (KMS). Then the client logged in and retrieved access token from the IMS to later obtain fully secure authenticated access to the MCX Application Server (AS). The MIKEY-SAKKE protocol allowed proper sharing of keying information between the participants in the call to secure both MCX specific signaling and voice communications.

The test is a milestone that once again demonstrates the maturity of the MCX solutions and shows that customers already have access to fully secure MCX solutions.

"This is a great achievement considering the whole mission critical communication community and we are proud to have been part of the test with our secure Bittium Tough Mobile 2 smartphone. It is good to see that cyber security issues are gaining more and more importance also in the public safety area," said Jari Sankala, Senior Vice President, Defense & Security at Bittium.

"We are pleased to partner such visionary companies with our products and enable such an important milestone for MCPTT functionality," said Daniele Munaretto, Public Safety Manager "Athonet has supported all the ETSI MCPTT and MCX plugtests since inception with EPC, IMS and eMBMS solutions and is pleased to enable this important "first-time" activity."

Jose Oscar Fajardo from Nemergent claimed, "We are proud of partnering once again with these pioneering companies; all together, we managed to show multi-vendor carrier-grade solutions going beyond niche interpretations of the 3GPP procedures."

Dr. Fidel Liberal, MCOP coordinator stated, "Once again the use of open APIs has been proven as the best way to foster the deployment of pioneer standardised multivendor mission critical communications ecosystems".