16 December 2010: The Global Certification Forum (GCF) has extended its mobile device certification scheme to encompass LTE.
From today, the GCF Certification process can be applied to LTE devices designed to operate in either the 700 MHz† band or the 800 MHz European Digital Dividend band. The 700 MHz band is currently being rolled-out in the USA while deployment of the 800 MHz has started in Germany. Work to extend the scheme to other bands is already well advanced; further bands could be brought within the GCF Certification scheme as early as January 2011.
Incorporating conformance, interoperability and field testing, GCF Certification is designed to give operators confidence that new devices are compliant with relevant standards. Using certification criteria and standardised test methodologies agreed collectively by operators and manufacturers, GCF Certification provides a rigourous assessment of a device’s network and service interoperability. The scheme has been shown to reduce acceptance testing overheads for manufacturers and operators alike. In the last 12 months, more than 400 handsets, USB modems and other 3GPP devices from 34 manufacturers have been GCF-Certified.
“By establishing a trusted benchmark for interoperability and common acceptance testing procedures, GCF Certification represents an important milestone along the road to a mass-market for LTE devices,” said Adriana Nugter, Operations Manager, GCF. “The launch of Certification for LTE devices is a tribute to the concerted efforts of GCF members from around the world.”
Bringing a new technology within GCF Certification depends on contributions from many stakeholders: stable core specifications and their associated test specifications from standards bodies; reference devices to enable tests to be validated; and new test platforms which need to be independently validated. In addition, an understanding of operators’ launch plans is required to ensure that Certification matches the real needs of the marketplace. GCF provides the forum in which experts from operators, device manufacturers, the test industry and other interested parties bring the required building blocks together.
Whereas UMTS was initially deployed in a single band, different regions have allocated a variety of frequency bands in which operators are able to deploy LTE; this has created a significant additional challenge for GCF. Through a carefully designed and flexible work programme, GCF has been able to move quickly to accommodate new bands as they have been made available. The adopted project structure has also ensured that delivery of Certification in one band is not hindered by delayed availability of tests, test equipment or reference devices for other bands.
GCF formally launched the development of the LTE Certification programme in early 2008 with an initial focus on three FDD bands [700 MHz (USA), 2100 MHz (Japan) and 2600 MHz (Europe)] and two TDD bands [2570-2620 MHz and 2300-2400 MHz (China/USA)]. The need for a flexible approach was confirmed during 2010 when requests were received to extend LTE Certification to the 1800 MHz band widely used by operators in Europe and Asia and, more recently, the 800 MHz European Digital Dividend band.
GCF expects Certification to be available for other FDD and TDD LTE bands in the first half of 2011. Under GCF’s rules, some of these bands could be incorporated within the scheme as early as January 2011.