University of Basque County
The Mission Critical Open Platform (MCOP) was launched to reduce the entry barriers that different stakeholders (device manufacturers, application developers and integrators) face in order to develop and test innovative Mission Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPTT) apps. The MCOP approach comprises the use of fully 3GPP standardized interfaces and the definition of northbound and southbound APIs in the devices. Additionally, in order to test that the proposed architecture is fully functional a MCPTT Open Source software development kit (SDK) and app have been released.
Principle Investigator: Fidel Liberal
Universidad del Pays Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea
The selection of a general purpose radio technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) for public safety networks has the aim of addressing the classical problems from Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems including: monolithic (e2e) and even proprietary systems, dependence on a single vendor, lack of interoperability, niche market and difficult integration by third parties, among others. The result of all of these entry barriers was not only expensive equipment but also very limited innovation capabilities when compared with the bustling Internet ecosystem and the new possibilities of new broadband cell networks and smartphones.
The unanimous agreement by the sector towards LTE was only the first step; driven by most of the relevant stakeholders’ involvement, the 3GPP defined a complete suite of full-IP standards for providing MC-Voice. The resulting Rel’13 (and beyond) MCPTT communications puzzle comprises an impressive set of different technologies as follows: brand-new MC-grade Rel’13 compatible LTE access network including evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS) capabilities and high priority Quality of Service (QoS) Class Identifier (QCIs), SIP/Internet Protocol Management System (IMS) Core, PCRF and BM-SC for QPP and multicast, and MCPTT application and configuration and support servers on the network side; similarly eMBMS and MCPTT set of protocols on the UE side.
Building such a complex system demands the bringing together of different stakeholders with opposing interests even for development, research or testing purposes, including LTE/eMBMS/ProSE chipset and middleware vendors, mobile OS suppliers, smartphone vendors, MCPTT apps, LTE radio access and core networks and SIM cards provider, IMS service deployment and others, and it is only affordable for a very limited set of key players in the world. Even the industry itself has acknowledged that this situation increases the time-to-market and results in duplicated no-added-value efforts.
Thus, regardless of the apparent openness of the MCPTT standardized ecosystem, the resulting heterogeneity brings in practice new entry barriers, jeopardizes the involvement of new players, threatens the role of former Over the Top (OTT) Push to Talk (PTT) solutions providers and local integrators –in comparison with big vendors- and reduces innovation possibilities. It questions the overall initial aim behind open standardized technology. This collaborative project aims at facing the new challenges of a complex ecosystem through the definition, development and validation of a MCPTT UE Open Platform (MCOP) that identifies neat interfaces between the different technologies in the UEs, reduces the integration efforts and removes the entry barriers.
The MCOP platform will include different level APIs for apps and UE’s MC capabilities integration, the release of a real MC-grade (with eMBMS and Rel’13 and beyond features) Open Source reference implementation of both a MCPTT client and public safety specific application in Android and the deployment and maintenance of both an on-site and online live testing platform in which researchers, developers and other practitioners can test, evaluate and validate their MCPTT compliant innovative APPs.
These objectives demand a highly skilled and heterogeneous consortium covering the different technology areas. MCOP brings together relevant actors from the Industry, eMBMS and MC UE vendor-sectors leaded by a neutral Academia partner (UPV/EHU) that is deeply involved in MCPTT interoperability activities. Finally, the project requires the availability of the server-side components in order to carry out the functional and performance validation. Although the project includes a small budget (assigned to an specialized external third party) for deploying and maintaining the online live testing platform during the project lifetime, the consortium will perform the required integration effort with other server-side components potentially deployed at PSCR labs (on-site live testing platform).
Although MCOP targets technological challenges mainly the whole PS community and specially the Public Safety Officers (PSOs) will benefit for the project outcomes through an intensive dissemination strategy. The availability of MC-grade UE open architecture and Open Source implementation will speed up the commercial product release cycle, enable new stakeholders to enter the PS ecosystem and improve the awareness and common understanding of PSOs and both public safety industry and researchers of the MCPTT suite of protocols. Additionally, MCOP plans to contribute to the innovation acceleration program by making available the resulting UE-side software components at PSCR and live testing facilities.