FirstNet outlines its device approval process

Mobile carriers routinely conduct mobile device approval processes to verify that a device meets certain technical specifications and works well with their networks, so it makes sense that the nation's first Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) would do so as well.

FirstNet says it expects its device approval process will be very similar to that of the commercial mobile network operators – with an additional component known as FirstNet Carrier Acceptance.

"FirstNet's carrier acceptance process will ensure that a device containing LTE Band 14 meets 3GPP specifications and public safety specific requirements," Kameron Behnam, FirstNet Device Test & Certification manager, wrote in a blog post this week.

In this context, the term "requirements" refers to features and functions, he said. FirstNet plans to and is currently leveraging the PCS Type Certification Review Board (PTCRB) to ensure devices equipped with Band 14 meet the 3GPP specifications and are interoperable per the CTIA LTE Interoperability test plan, he added.

FirstNet plans to address device features unique to public safety and testing performance aspects of Band 14 that are above and beyond the 3GPP and other specifications. Examples of features unique to public safety include direct mode, proximity services and mission critical push-to-talk.

"Going forward, the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program and FirstNet will maintain a strong relationship, with PSCR focusing on forward looking research, standards, metrology and technology development, while FirstNet's focus will remain on the mission of building and operating the nationwide public safety broadband network. This relationship will be leveraged in the development of FirstNet's device approval process," Behnam said. 

Last month, FirstNet officials said they're on track to make a final award for the public safety broadband network by November, signifying that things are on a steady track. FirstNet released its final RFP in January, and bids for the right to build and maintain the network are due on May 13.

For more:
- see the blog post

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