The Global Certification Forum is laying out its roadmap for 5G device certification, with a newly approved work item that will cover certification for early phases of both non-standalone and standalone 5G.

With 5G chipset work well underway and network equipment already in the field-testing stage, commercial devices that can utilize 5G technology are a big step in ensuring that users can actually take advantage of 5G networks as they emerge. Most 5G devices for testing are currently prototypes — or in the case of fixed-wireless access, customer premise equipment that provides a Wi-Fi connection to consumer devices.

Non-standalone 5G operation, in which control aspects are handled through existing LTE cores and 5G New Radio is used to reduce latency and increase speeds, was approved by the Third Generation Partnership Project last month. GCF and PTCRB are the two major global device certification groups which provide a framework for device conformance testing, based on 3GPP standards.

Lars Nielsen, general manager of GCF, said that the work item “is an important milestone … marking the start of our formal participation in 5G. Building on the work of 3GPP, GCF’s focus will be on providing an effective and efficient certification scheme to support the commercial roll-out of 5G devices and services worldwide.”

GCF said that 5G device conformance testing will be based on test cases that were defined by the RAN5 Working Group. GCF’s new work item “anticipates the development of multiple sub-Work Items to cover various areas for which conformance test cases are under development.  These areas currently include radio reception, transmission and performance; radio resource management (RRM); positioning; radio access protocols; core network protocols and IMS protocols.”

GCF is also pitching in on the development of standardized test cases through a one-off financial contribution for test cases that utilize 3GPP Testing and Test Control Notation Version 3 (TTCN-3), which is an ETSI-standardized programming language for 3GPP protocol test cases. GCF said that the TTCN-3 work it is supporting “will help ensure that 5G device testing and certification are available in time to support industry initiatives such as the [Next Generation Mobile Networks] 5g Trial and Testing Initiative and early standards-compliant deployments of 5G in late 2018 and early 2019.”


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