Holzwarth said that each vendor was scheduled to test interoperability with one vendor in the morning and another during the afternoon. However, vendors also were allowed to test interoperability with vendors not on the schedule, if time allowed, he said. Harris typically was able to conduct testing with two vendors in the morning and two in the afternoon, according to Holzwarth.

“Generally, we start with MCPTT, then we’ll step into MCDATA—text messaging--and then we’ll step into MCVIDEO test cases,” he said. “The test cases are really well-defined—they’re broken down, they’re numbered—and everybody’s been working hard for a good part of the year to implement against those test cases, so all of the engineers know them really well.”

Although MCDATA and MCVIDEO products had not been subject of interoperability testing before last week, Gray said the fact that both standards use several platform elements already included in MCPTT solutions should help the performance of the new offerings.

“I think the general mood has been that these standards are pretty well framed, so there’s not too much that needs to be going back to 3GPP for clarifications, change requests or whatever else,” Gray said.

“The principles of what’s required and how it needs to be implemented for the end-users’ perspective seems to have been pretty well captured the first time around by 3GPP, which I think is a testament to the hard work that’s gone on in the standards for the last few years.”

Holzwarth said the setting for the ETSI plugtests next to the Disaster City facility on the Texas A&M campus was ideal, given the purpose of the event.

“It’s a really cool venue for this event, because we are surrounded by train wreckage and crumbled buildings—all in full life scale,” Holzwarth said. “It kind of put it right in front of us who we are serving with these products that we are working on as we sit in front of our keyboards in an air-conditioned building. It’s an amazing facility here at Disaster City.”

Gray agreed, calling the Texas A&M facility “fantastic” and applauding the work of Walt Magnussen and his host team in College Station.

TCCA was one of several sponsors for the ETSI plugtest. ETSI has not announced the site of the 2019 MCPTT plugtests—the event was in France last year—but that in-person gathering may not be the next time that vendors conduct interoperability work on mission-critical LTE solutions, Gray said.

“The logical conclusion of doing this annual plugtest is that there probably needs to be more frequency of plugtesting,” Gray said. “Maybe the next one will be done in less than a year but will be done remotely.

“There are key advantages to being face to face, and everyone acknowledges that. But, in the meantime, if you can also be doing some remote—and everything, technologywise, lends itself to that—the vast majority of people think it’s worth doing something remotely before the next face-to-face event.”