Representatives from 30 vendors are slated to participate in next week’s ETSI Plugtest, which will include a series of technical exercises designed to demonstrate interoperability between various 3GPP-compliant solutions that provide mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT), mission-critical data and mission-critical video capabilities.

Led by ETSI—a partner in the 3GPP standards body—the weeklong event beginning Monday at the Disaster City Training Facility on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, marks the second MCPTT Plugtest. Last year’s ETSI Plugtest was conducted in France. and participating vendors tested only MCPTT interoperability, according to

“They needed a facility that had significant network connection, had done a testing operation before and was flexible enough to meet whatever the requirements are,” Walt Magnussen, director of the Texas A&M University Technology Evaluation Center, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It’s harder to do things like this at a federal facility, because everything that happens in and out of the federal government goes through a couple of pretty beefy firewalls. They needed a facility that had a bit more flexibility.”

Last year’s ETSI Plugtest had 19 vendors participating in MCPTT interoperability tests. This year, 30 vendors will participate in interoperability tests for MCPTT, as well as for solutions meeting the new 3GPP mission-critical data and mission-critical video standards.

“Mission-critical LTE is the first broadband technology that will be used worldwide by public-safety users,” Harald Ludwig, TCCA Technical Forum chairman, said in a prepared statement. “Hosting the second MCPTT Plugtests in the U.S., after having the first in Europe, shows the global approach. Interoperability between agencies and between countries can only be achieved with standards-based technologies.”

Although the tests are not available for viewing by the general public, approved observers from government and public safety are allowed to attend. Last year, seven observers watched to ETSI Plugtest in France, but “dozens” of observers are slated to view this year’s interoperability test in Texas, including U.S. state and federal representatives, and well as international observers from Belgium, Canada, Norway, France, Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom, according to an ETSI press release.

Magnussen said the increased interest in the ETSI Plugtest is typical of a new technology, as public-safety LTE initiatives like FirstNet throughout the world get closer to real-world usage, and more governments seek to make strategic decisions regarding public-safety LTE.

One of the returning participants from last year’s MCPTT Plugtest in France is Harris PSPC, which is evolving its existing BeOn solution—designed to emulate P25 performance via a broadband connection—into an MCPTT-standard solution, according to Bill Arakelian, director of LTE for Harris PSPC.

“We’re excited to build on some of the successes from the first event last year,” Arakelian said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We’re happy to see that the number of participants has continued to grow. I think that some of the work around verifying the standards and ensuring the interoperability capabilities between the vendors is something that we’re excited about.”

Not all companies have solutions for all of the MCPTT, MCDATA and MCVIDEO tests, but there are some common components that vendors seeking to participate in multiple mission-critical testing can leverage, Arakelian said.

“There are components developed for the [MCPTT] standard that are leveraged across the video and data components of it,” Arakelian said. “We’re looking at the common service components of the standard and leveraging those for video and data, as well. What we want to ensure that we bring is a unified solution across these different services, so they can all be fully leveraged as an integrated solution.”