Develop testing methods and processes to ensure conformance and interoperability of Mission Critical Services server-to-server communications.
Mission critical services were implemented in the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards to provide public safety users with highly resilient and high-performance network capabilities, such as quality of service, priority and preemption.
Cellular network providers are starting to provide Mission Critical Services (MCS or MCX) to their customers in the form of Mission Critical Push To Talk (MCPTT), Mission Critical Video (MCVideo), and Mission Critical Data (MCData). However, communications and interoperability among users on different carriers, or on different vendor furnished applications, can be limiting. MCS services consist of both end point applications on user equipment and the servers that provision and manage those services. Though MCS servers exist within a cellular network provider's core network, there are other devices that can act as a MCS server. An example of this is portable dispatcher units that a customer may use.
Since these services are relatively new, the interfaces between the servers and their implementation are not mature and are likely to be non-interoperable and not conform to the standards. Furthermore, there exists proprietary technology that could hamper communications and interoperability. (Non-interoperable solutions will be a barrier to interoperability between public safety users using different services). The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR) has recently funded grants to perform MCS device and application conformance test cases. Currently, there is no test equipment that can perform server conformance test cases. And there is no unified process and methodology to conduct interoperability testing for MCS server-to-server communications.
The 3GPP has created server-to-server conformance test cases in the document TS 36.579-3 for MCPTT, but it has no plans to create conformance test tools for these test cases. There are 3GPP work plans to greatly expand the scope of the document to include server aspects for MCVideo and MCData, in addition to expanding the number of test cases for MCPTT. (e.g., TTCN-3). This effort will build upon the NIST PSCR effort to build test tools to enable conformance and interoperability testing between MCS servers of different cellular network providers. This solution will develop testing equipment to test server conformance and a process & methodology for testing interoperability to insure that first responders maintain communications during critical incidents and planned events per the standard(s) [see references]. This is especially needed if the users are trying to communicate while using multiple cellular network providers or solution providers.