25 Jun 2024

Certification of 3GPP satellite connectivity

LEO satellite in orbit, courtesy of Sateliot

The Global Certification Forum (GCF) has announced that it is adding support for satellite communications and non-terrestrial networks (NTN) to its device certification programme.

The company says with the adoption of standards-based satellite connectivity in the communications industry, manufacturers can certify their devices to be directly connected to different satellite operators. This is helping enable the rapid introduction in the market of satellite-connected devices with assured interoperability.

3GPP NTN NB-IoT and eMTC technology is being included in the GCF Certification Criteria, allowing devices to certify compliance with Release 17 of the 3GPP standard.

Lars Nielsen, CEO at GCF, said: “With this new certification programme, GCF is supporting the deployment of NTN/satellite communications worldwide. Satellite reaches areas where terrestrial coverage cannot go, for technical or commercial reasons, thus widening access around the globe.”

Isabelle Mauro, Director General at Global Satellite Operators Association (GSOA), said: “By facilitating certification for a large number of device manufacturers and models, GCF is leading the way – helping satellite operators set the stage for placing NTN-capable devices on the market. Activation of an industry-wide certification program is a great achievement towards this goal.”

“We are delighted to have been the pioneering standards-based satellite operator joining Global Certification Forum (GCF). Paving the way for the realisation of interoperable, 3GPP standards-based cellular NTN access. Sateliot proudly stands as a flag bearer, actively engaged in ideating, implementing, and leading standards, contributing significantly to the acceleration of standard adoption. Our commitment extends to actively contributing to the hastening of the commercialisation of standard devices, demonstrating our dedication to advancing industry norms and fostering innovation,” added Marco Guadalupi, co-founder and CTO at Sateliot.

GCF certification starts with support for 3GPP release 17 NBN NB-IoT and eMTC. Additionally, 5G NR and evolution to NTN NB-IoT 3GPP Rel. 18 are also being developed within the forum. GCF, as a strong supporter of 5G, is committed to delivering a certification program for almost every 5G technology that is being standardised at 3GPP.

With the first commercial NTN devices already hitting the market, GCF says Certification for NTN comes at the right moment and will be activated with the publication of the next release of GCF Certification Criteria in February 2024.

NBN NB-IoT is an IoT-focused technology, designed for supporting messaging and narrow band use cases, and to complement existing terrestrial communications in many applications.

By combining conformance and interoperability tests undertaken in laboratories with field trials on multiple commercial networks, GCF certification verifies the quality of the interoperability of wireless devices with different network elements, vendors’ infrastructure, and other services. GCF certifies hundreds of different device models each year.